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Joe Fried’s $80 million truck accident settlement is bigger than the dollar amount

Written by Steve Gursten Posted May 24th, 2016

Record global truck accident settlement includes assurances by trucking company defendants to install the newest “forward looking collision avoidance technology” to prevent future deadly wrecks

Truck accident attorney Joe Fried

Truck Roundtable Co-Founder Joe Fried, along with a couple of other lawyers from Atlanta, Georgia, recently secured truck accident settlements totaling nearly $80 million, stemming from a deadly truck wreck near Savannah, Georgia in April 2015.  A truck driver slammed in to a line of cars that had stopped for an earlier crash. There were seven nursing students in two of the cars. Five were tragically killed and two were seriously injured. The truck driver never hit his brakes before impact but denied falling asleep or being distracted.

The dollar amount of the settlement is obviously turning heads. The settlement for the accident victims will likely be the largest truck accident settlement in 2016 (Roundtable co-founders Michael Leizerman and Steven Gursten also recovered the largest truck accident settlement in 2014).

But Joe’s settlement is also turning heads for another reason. Before agreeing to the settlement, Joe secured commitments from the trucking companies involved that they would make changes to prevent future crashes. Some of these changes were internal operating procedures to prevent unqualified drivers from slipping though the screening process. The other is a commitment by the trucking companies to implement the latest “forward looking collision avoidance technology” on all their new trucks as they come on line.

This technology is a safety game changer. The system is constantly scanning the road ahead for obstacles. If an obstacle is there and the driver fails to apply brakes in an appropriate way, the system will automatically apply the brakes and slow the truck down – all the way to a stop if necessary. The system works regardless of whether the driver is tired or not, distracted or not, the best driver in the world or the worst driver in the world.

Joe says there’s nothing out there that will have a more immediate or profound impact on highway safety than the implementation of this technology in the trucking industry. The trucking industry’s own statistics show that Forward Looking Collision Avoidance Technology would reduce read-end crashes by 28% (over 4,500 a year), reduce fatalities by 44% (100 or so a year) and reduce injuries by 47% (almost 3,600 a year).

Recommendations for the use of forward collision avoidance systems to stop truck rear-end crashes

A special education report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on “The Use of Forward Collision Avoidance Systems to Prevent and Mitigate Rear-End Crashes,” found:

“… that currently available forward collision  avoidance technologies for passenger and commercial vehicles still show clear benefits that could reduce rear-end crash fatalities. However, more must be done to speed up deployment of these technologies in all vehicle types.”

As a result of these findings, the NTSB made the following recommendations:

  • For manufacturers to install forward collision avoidance systems as standard features on all newly manufactured passenger and commercial motor vehicles.
  • For National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to expand the New Car Assessment Program to include a graded rating to assess the performance of forward collision avoidance systems.
  • For NHTSA to expand or develop protocols for the assessment of forward collision avoidance systems in passenger and commercial vehicles.

Lawsuits should be about more than just money

Unfortunately, too many lawsuits are about nothing more than the money.  Joe’s case is a stellar example of what lawyers should be doing.  Lawsuits need to fairly and fully compensate victims, but they’re also tremendous opportunities to advance highway safety. Too few lawyers take advantage of these opportunities.

At the Truck Attorneys Roundtable, we’ve all seen dozens of catastrophic wrecks that could have been prevented with this technology. Our attorneys are now pushing for safety measures and other accident avoidance technology in other cases. We are also encouraging other attorneys to do so.

If more attorneys who litigate truck accident cases push for this kind of change, we can really make a difference in preventing these terrible truck wrecks. We can save lives, which is the safety mission of the Roundtable.

Together we can make a difference.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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