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Local trucking company says industry being hurt by lawsuits

KFOX14, January 7, 2020

By Mills Hayes

EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) — In the wake of unrest in the Middle East, local trucking companies are keeping an eye on the price of fuel.

But some companies say it’s actually the price of insurance that’s become a make-or-break issue.

“These lawyers are just having a field day going after big trucking companies. The bigger the company the more they go after,” Royal Jones, CEO of Mesilla Valley Transportation, said.

Jones said things were looking good for trucking companies back in 2018.

“Last year things kind of leveled out and there was more carriers and not enough freight, but the economy was still good. Just supply and demand. Too many trucks’ rates go down,” Jones said.

As rates went down, the price of insurance went up.

“Then here comes all this added insurance cost. Ours went up 29% in 2019 and another 28% for 2020,” Jones said.

Jones said it’s because personal injury lawyers have zeroed in on the trucking industry.

“Even though you ran the stop sign and you were drunk they find a way to twist it back and blame the trucker,” Jones said.

“It’s a time in which the number of insurance companies that want to insure trucking companies has diminished,” Paul Lavelle, president of Desert West Insurance Agency and Truck Insurance of El Paso, said.

Lavelle says lawsuits against trucking companies often result in settlements and big payouts.

“You’re looking at $10 million or $20 million lawsuits,” Lavelle said.

That means insurance policies are going up.

“Truck insurance can easily run anywhere from $10-$15,000 a year per tractor-trailer,” Lavelle said.

Jones says a strike for tort reform is unlikely, but the impact would be huge since trucks carry everything from the food you buy in stores to the gas you use in your car.

“It’s gotten so out of control there needs to be some maximum set on how much you can get for doing something,” Jones said.

Lavelle says that even though fewer agencies want to insure trucking companies there still are some competitive rates out there. The biggest thing, Jones says, is to shop around and compare rates.

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