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Attorney: ELDs Could Halt Trucking Lawsuits

A plaintiffs’ lawyer suggests that ELDs could actually halt some unwarranted lawsuits in their early stages, lessen the jury-confusing banter of expert witnesses and protect carriers and drivers who are safety conscious, reports Fleet Owner.

In the article, Joseph Fried, trial attorney at Atlanta-based Fried Rogers Goldberg LLC, tells the magazine that by checking data from ELDs, plaintiffs’ attorneys may know more quickly if a lawsuit has merit and perhaps indicate sooner whether that a lawsuit is not worth pursuing.

“There have been many cases that I would have filed in order to do the discovery but I chose not to file because I looked at the information on the front-end, and it didn’t support my case,” Fried said.

“If you’re going live a life of credibility, that means not bringing (BS) lawsuits, and if you approach somebody [a carrier’s lawyer] and you ask for something and they say ‘no,’ then you probably have a pretty good lawsuit. In my experience, if they have supporting material that helps them, they’re very happy to show it to me on the front end. To that degree, I think [ELDs] can be a litigation stopper.”

Fried also believes that ELD data can put a damper on the ‘he-said, she-said’ battle of expert witnesses and hiring of special auditors because the data often can speak for itself. He notes that ELD providers want to provide the most accurate, unbiased and trustworthy data to bolster their own trustworthiness in the industry. To accomplish that, they will not “back up the industry at any cost.”

“I still think you have to be able to understand the data, and you have to put it into context,” Fried added. “And there’s going to be some plaintiff lawyers who want to take it out of context and try to make it say something that it’s not really saying, and there are going to be some defense lawyers that do the same. But I’ve got another source to go get the information from, namely the ELD provider, and they’re most interested in maintaining their reputation for voracity of their ELD product.”

Fried mentioned that ELDs can also eliminate or cut down on the need for accident reconstruction specialists. “Accident reconstruction becomes simpler, because I can look at data and I can see 5 seconds, 10 seconds, a minute and 45 seconds, depending on the carrier and the ECM, and I can see what really was going on.  I can see when the brakes were applied, for example, whereas before each side would hire a reconstructionist, and they would sometimes wave their hands in the air and say, ‘This is what happened.’ The role of the expert is changing. ELD changes it, because there’s less work for them to do on audits. Proving an hours-of-service case, for instance, is a very different process under ELD.”

Read full article here.

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