Pollution liability can be a major problem for trucking companies. Typical business automobile liability insurance policies exclude coverage for losses caused by the release of pollutants. These policies define pollutants broadly as any irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste. At some point, most trucking companies will transport something that qualifies as a pollutant just given the broadness of the definition. Therefore, the pollution exclusion in the traditional policy can create a major gap between a company’s risk exposures and their insurance coverage.
In October 2018, the Center for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration announced an outbreak of E. coli traced to the consumption of romaine lettuce. The outbreak continued through December. In total, the Center for Disease Control has traced fifty two cases to the produce across fifteen states, leading to nineteen people being hospitalized.
Pollution liability for trucking companies can get very complicated. Determining what you may be covered for and what you may not be can cause major headaches while costing your company money. Trucking companies have significant exposures in this area, and the language of the standard commercial automobile liability policy and federal law do not help.
In 1986, responding to a host of industries that struggled to find acceptable coverage in the traditional insurance marketplace, Congress passed the Liability Risk Retention Act. The Act authorized the creation of risk retention groups – liability insurance companies owned by its members. Entities in an industry suffering through a liability crisis can form a risk retention group to provide them with the coverage they need when the wider insurance market is unwilling to.
Developments over the last few years in federal labor law have generated a lot of discussion and analysis. Regulations and decisions affecting joint employer liability and the definition of employees at the federal level obviously draw the attention of employers. Its easy to overlook though that each state is often free to establish their own standards and tests for determining these questions; those standards may sometimes conflict with federal law.
Labor issues have been causing headaches in the trucking industry for a long time. The industry seems perpetually short of qualified drivers. Ensuring drivers stay compliant with applicable rules on driving times and record-keeping presents a different set of challenges. On top of that, some companies have caused problems by violating labor laws, refusing to pay labor judgments, and thus undercutting their competition.
Employment contracts can represent a large area of potential risk for modern businesses. Many companies are used to thinking of their employment practices as an area where lack of diligence can lead to massive lawsuits. Most realize that solid employment contracts can protect them from potential lawsuits by laying out clear expectations for the employer-employee relationship and through agreements to engage in methods of alternative dispute resolution. Still, the contracts, whether as a separate document or through the use of an employee handbook that serves as a binding contract, can lead to several potential landmines for the unwary.
Food safety issues remain a major risk for shippers, carriers, and receivers involved in the transportation of food within the United States. The Food and Drug Administration, acting under the Food Safety Modernization Act, has passed a number of regulations aimed at reimagining the ways companies respond to the threat of food-borne illness or adulteration. The government is trying to move towards a more preventive approach towards food safety, as opposed to a reactive one in which it merely responds and investigates concerns in the wake of outbreaks.
Employee handbooks are an essential resource for most companies. They are an excellent way for companies to communicate important and vital information to employees such as benefit information, sick and vacation leave policies. They’re also a great way to help establish a company culture and lay out clear expectations for employees. They can lay out the essential processes and procedures of your company, and your employees should follow. Moreover, if you’re not careful, an employee handbook can be enforced against the employer as a binding contract.
In the wake of an accident, its standard for trucking companies to conduct thorough investigations of what happened. Having a clear indication of what happened can help the company manage the claims process more efficient and help the company save money in the long run. At the same time, trucking companies need to be aware that their investigations create a paper trail that can be used against them in a lawsuit. As a result, post-accident investigative processes need to be well thought out to ensure they do not accidentally damage the business.