Friday, August 25, 2023

SMMC Mock Trial: Elevating industry safety and courtroom expertise

At the heart of Alabama’s bustling economy, the trucking industry serves as a vital lifeline that keeps commerce flowing seamlessly. In recent years, carriers have been targeted in so-called “nuclear verdicts,” referring to legal disputes involving $10 million or more in money owed.  One of the goals of yesterday’s highly successful Mock Trial and Legal Seminar held at ATA’s headquarters in Montgomery, was to provide ATA and SMMC members with examples of courtroom testimony and scenarios that they could use if they are ever faced with a lawsuit.

The event, sponsored by Rimkus, a forensic consulting, construction and transportation dispute resolution consulting firm, drew a capacity crowd of more than 75. Attendees watched a live mock trial of an actual legal dispute that involved a tractor-trailer crash with damage and injury.

Attorneys from Hand Arendall Harrison Sale and ATA members presented the case, and participants acted as jurors, deliberating on a verdict and compensation recommendations. 

According to ATA Vice President of Safety & Compliance Tim Frazier, the event showcases how courtroom testimony affects court cases. 

“It is an eye-opener for some attendees because they see and hear the same testimony and decide the outcome of a case,” he said. “We split the audience into several juries, and it’s always interesting to see how folks perceive the testimony differently and how verdicts differ from jury to jury.”

The event also highlighted the industry’s commitment to safety, evident from substantial investments in technology and training, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles since 2020.

According to ATA leaders, the event underlines the importance of safety and people within the trucking industry. Anchored by substantial investments in safety technologies and comprehensive training programs, the industry has achieved an impressive 25 percent reduction in fatal crashes involving commercial motor vehicles since 2020.

With a staggering 86 percent of the state’s communities relying solely on trucking to deliver essential goods, the industry plays a pivotal role in sustaining Alabama’s prosperity. Moreover, an impressive 81 percent of manufactured goods traverse the state via trucks, emphasizing its indispensable position in the supply chain. Despite its successes, the industry faces challenges, including frivolous lawsuits that strain its resilience. Alabama Trucking leaders are determined to reshape the legal landscape by advocating for a fairer system prioritizing justice and accountability.