Best Practices

Becoming a Trauma-Informed Trucking Defense Attorney

By Mark Perkins

“We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also an imprint left by that experience on the mind, brain, and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present.”

These are the words of Bessel van de Kolk, M.D., in “The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma,” p.21 (2014).

Psychological trauma can befall anyone. Better advocates comprehend that truck drivers who have been involved in a catastrophic accident suffer from significant emotional stress. When investigating an incident, we should have two main goals: to get the best information and to minimize re-traumatization.

To get there, first, it is important to understand the personalities of lawyers and truck drivers.

Dr. Larry Richard, founder of Lawyer Brain LLC, opines on common personality traits of lawyers in “Herding Cats: The Lawyer Personality Revealed.” Larry Richard, J.D., Ph.D., is the founder of and Principal Consultant at Lawyer Brain LLC, a consulting firm that focuses on improving lawyer performance through personality science. He formerly chaired the Leadership and Organization Development Practice at Hildebrandt International, and before that provided similar services at Altman Weil. He is a leading expert on law firm leadership practices and group dynamics in law firms and the nation’s leading expert on lawyers’ personalities.

Using the Caliper profile created by Lloyd Semple, Dr. Richard evaluated over 1,000 lawyers, and several patterns emerged that distinguished managing/entrepreneurial partners from the “service lawyers.” Managing partners were found to have traits of:

  • High ego drive: The desire to persuade for the sheer passion of persuasion
  • Empathy: The ability to step into the shoes of others
  • Resilience: The ability to bounce back from criticism and rejection

Like most psychological profile tools, the Caliper Profile must be supervised in a formal setting and would be unreliable if taken by an individual.

The average Ego Strength score for the rainmaker was 63 compared to only 43 for “service partners.” Common traits of “service partners,” which make up the vastly larger population of lawyers are:

  • Skepticism: High levels of this trait are important for success as a lawyer in litigation because these lawyers are cynical, judgmental, questioning, and argumentative
  • High urgency: “An intensity to their behavioral style since they are results-oriented;” (i.e. “Herding Cats…” p.5)
  • Low sociability: Defined in the study as the desire to interact with others on a one-on-one/intimate level. Most lawyers prefer dealing with information, intellectual arguments, and mental interactions, rather than issues of the heart
  • Low resilience: Over 90 percent of those profiled have traits of defensiveness and sensitivity to criticism
  • Autonomy: Resistance to being managed

Consider now the common characteristics of the average truck driver based on scientific research. According to Karen Landay, Dustin Wood, P.D. Harms, Brandon Ferrell, and Shashi Nambisan in Relationships Between Personality Facets and Accident Involvement Among Truck Drivers” Journal of Research in Personality, Vol. 84 (2020), the following are common characteristics of drivers involved in major accidents:

  • Realistic: very “black and white, right and wrong.” They don’t spend much evaluation of the gray areas of life. This can be problematic when the “reptile theory” is used to confront the driver with the rules of the road.
  • Risk-takers, exhibitionistic
  • Less empathetic
  • Anger and anxiety reactive

The authors write “ … a propensity towards anxiety could lead drivers to hesitate or freeze up under pressure, which may lead to poor decisions or delayed reactions. A lack of empathy—the ability to put oneself in another’s place—may also contribute to behavior that endangers other drivers. And although creativity is highly valued in many professions, truck drivers who operate outside the norm may be more likely to contribute to accidents.”

Authors Karen Landay and P. D. Harms write in “Certain Personality Make Some Professional Truck Drivers More Dangerous Than Others” Character & Context (May 2020) that being a truck driver is a grueling and often thankless job. Time away from home and a generally unhealthy lifestyle are only two factors impacting high turnover rates—more than 90 percent in 2017.

A 2017 study published in the “Transportation Journal,” Vol. 56, Issue 1, gives insight into truck driver frustrations:

  • Wellbeing. Truck drivers experience loneliness and isolation. They also experience health issues that may go unaddressed. Being away from home and an overall unhealthy lifestyle take a tremendous toll.
  • Respect. Truck drivers feel slighted by four-wheelers, customers, dispatchers, and managers. Perhaps drivers should not take all the antagonism personally, but now that you understand the personality traits of drivers, the fact is that they do.
  • Regulation. While most drivers recognize the purpose of regulations, they also worry about their pay, eligibility to drive, and being told how to do their job.

In rapid response, our task is to gather all the available information about a particular incident. We focus on who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Trauma-informed interviews require more than “just the facts.” For survivors, logic and rationality do not always apply. Often a survivor will demonstrate signs of deception, such as the inability to deliver a coherent narrative, lack of consistency in recounting an event, and remembering vital details later.

“When Just The Facts Doesn’t Work,” was written by Bryan Barlow, CFI. Barlow joined the Chicago Police Department in 2002 and was promoted to detective in 2008. He serves as a training coordinator and instructor for the CPD’s Bureau of Detectives, where he has researched, written curriculum, and delivered training to new officers, newly promoted detectives, and in-service department members. His training and instruction has covered investigatory topics such as interviewing victims and witnesses, interrogation of suspects and trauma-informed interviewing, with a focus on interviewing sexual assault victims.

According to Barlow, we must understand the effect of trauma on the brain and adjust our style accordingly because the trauma survivor’s impression of us will affect, not only their participation in the investigation, but also their ability to recover from the trauma.

In trauma, the brain takes self-protective measures. The amygdala (the emotional center of the brain) releases hormones that increase stress and energy levels (adrenaline and cortisol) as well as hormones that dull physical and emotional pain (opioids and oxytocin). The hormones flood the prefrontal cortex (the rational center of the brain), which leads to the traumatized individual acting on the fight/flight/freeze instinct.

This hormone deluge also affects the parts of brain that forms memory. Trauma survivors do not remember in a logical, sequential manner; they remember sensory and emotional fragments.

When asked what happened, the trauma survivor likely will not respond to the typical “who, what, when, where, why, and how” because the prefrontal cortex was overloaded at the time of the trauma. We cannot treat trauma survivors as witnesses to their own trauma. We should ask sensory and emotional or experiential questions.

A lawyer must understand his or her personality traits and suppress them. A lawyer must understand the common personality traits of truckers, which may be reactive, defensive, aggressive, distrusting and “all or nothing mentality.” Superimposed over those personality traits is loss of control and loss of power for the trauma survivor.

Start by empowering the driver

Be empathetic and patient. The typical lawyer charges around like he or she is on their way to a fire, but a trauma-informed lawyer may take several meetings to get all the necessary information. Initially, get the truck driver to discuss his history, his family, the reasons for becoming a truck driver. Put their mind at ease, regardless of fault.

Questions and statements should be prefaced with a request for permission: “Can I ask you…” or “Can I tell you…” This empowers the trauma survivor by giving them choices.

Questions should also be open-ended. Allow the trauma survivor to lead. Start with “Can I ask you what you are able to remember about the incident?” Because the traumatized brain recalls incidents in sensory bits, sensory-based questions act as cues to retrieve memories. “Can I ask what you are able to remember about what you saw … heard … smelled … tasted … felt.”

The traumatized brain may concentrate on certain details more than others. This focus may frustrate or seem unimportant; however, lean into seemingly insignificant detail. Ask the trauma survivor to tell you more about the detail. This may trigger recall to a bigger picture of the overall incident. The process takes time to emerge.


Our own personality traits and those of the driver influence our ability to collect information. Additionally, by understanding the impact of trauma, we concentrate on the overall experience rather than specific details. Being open-minded, taking our time, and focusing on the needs of the trauma survivor will greatly improve our ability to obtain reliable, helpful evidence and mitigate the effects of trauma on the surviving truck driver.

Mark PerkinsMark Perkins is the managing partner of the law firm Perkins & Associates, LLC in Northwest Louisiana where he practices primarily in commercial and trucking defense, as well as premises and products liability defense and general insurance defense. Mark is editor-in-chief of the Quarterly Newsletter for the Trucking Industry Defense Association. He is also a trauma-survivor witnessing the shooting death of another child when he was 12 years old. For more information, he can be reached at www.perkinsfirm.com or perkins@perkinsfirm.com.

Defense Counsel's Gambit

Calculated Opening Strategies in Responding to Policy Demand Letters

By David A. Nasrollahi

Over the last few years, COVID-19 has changed every aspect of our daily lives. As we all quarantined, many of us had a newfound abundance of excess time. We all used this time differently, some better than others. For me, I was sucked into Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit¸ a miniseries that follows an orphan chess prodigy on the rise as she faces serious inner demons. The series was so popular that eBay recorded a 215 percent increase in chess set sales since the show debuted. I must admit that I contributed to this statistic, and my “COVID hobby” became learning how to play chess. As I learned how to play, or lose depending on who you ask, I began to notice the similarities between the game of chess and trucking litigation.

In chess, as in trucking litigation, the field is constantly evolving and changing. One must constantly be thinking many moves ahead. Every move has a reaction that has game changing results or consequences. In the trucking litigation field, we are constantly seeing changes that include revisions to the FMCSA, state laws and regulations, and industry safety practices. Currently, we are seeing a rise in the amount of trucking accidents across the country. See National Safety Council Study: https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/road-users/large-trucks. Additionally, there is an increase in injuries resulting from trucking accidents as well. Id.

We are also seeing jury awards for trucking accidents balloon. A study completed by the American Transportation Research Institute indicates that the average jury award increased 1,000 percent from 2010 to 2018. See https://truckingresearch.org/2020/06/23/new-research-documents-the-scale-of-nuclear-verdicts-in-the-trucking-industry. Given this increase, the likelihood of a verdict in excess of the policy limits has become a major litigation concern. First, an obvious one, the client is stuck in a position of paying significant amounts of money from nuclear verdicts. Second, insurers are faced with further exposure on the ever-growing bad faith litigation front.

In chess, as the game changes and develops, so does our opponent’s strategy. The same goes for trucking litigation. As our field changes as a result of the rising number of trucking accidents and nuclear verdicts, the Plaintiffs’ bar develops strategies to put additional pressure on defendants and insurance carriers. One of the most prevalent tools used by the Plaintiff’s bar is the settlement demand letter. Plaintiff counsel generally send these letters for two reasons:

  1. Attempting to settle the claim before having to spend any time or resources in investigating and litigating the claim.
  2. Setting up the bad faith claim.

Responses to demand letters can be viewed as an opening move in chess, as our response can have major ramifications in how the trucking accident litigation and the potential bad faith claim are handled. This article endeavors to provide some practical tips on how to adequately and strategically make your “opening move” when responding to a demand letter in an effort to reduce the risk of a bad faith claim down the road and hopefully avoid falling for the Queen’s gambit.

Understanding the Basics

In order to win in chess, a player must checkmate the opponent’s king. Additionally, it is common etiquette to resign to your opponent when there is an insurmountable advantage that a path to a checkmate is clear. However, if you believe that checkmate is not clear, then one does not have to resign just because your opponent believes he is unstoppable. When we receive a demand letter, it is invaluable to understand when to settle to not act in bad faith, or “resign to our opponent.”

There is no uniform rule on when a liability carrier must settle a claim to not act in bad faith. Simply put, there are many different tests and rules that each state and jurisdiction follow that need to be analyzed prior to responding to a demand letter. Taking that into account, a majority of courts have held that because the insurer has exclusive control over the litigation and settlement, as reserved in the liability policy, it obligates itself to settle claims asserted against its insured for the amount up to and including the policy limits, when the claim justifies a settlement. See Herges v. Western Casualty & Surety Co., 408 F2d 1157 (5th Cir. 1969); State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Skaggs, 251 F2d 356 (10th Cir. 1957); Groce v. Fidelity General Ins. Co. 252 Or. 296 (Or. 1968); Herges v. Western Casualty & Surety Co., 408 F2d 1157 (8th Cir. 1974).

Most courts place a burden on the insurer to act in good faith in responding to demand letters that are within policy limits. See Comunale v. Traders & General Ins. Co. 50 Cal 2d 654, 328 P2d 198, 68 A.L.R.2d 883 (Cal. banc 1958); Zumwalt v. Utilities Ins. Co. 360 Mo 362, 228 SW2d 750 (Mo. 1950); Brown v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co., 314 F2d 675 (2nd Cir. 1963); Murray v. Mossman, 56 Wash. 2d 909, 355 P2d 985 (Wash. 1960).

Some courts require the insurer to act with due care of in a “non-negligent” manner in responding to a reasonable settlement demand. Trahan v. Central Mut. Ins. Co., 219 So 2d 187, (3rd Cir. 1969), application den. 254 La 12, 222 So 2d 66.

As is the case with the duty to settle, there are numerous definitions of what constitutes “bad faith.” Many states have statutes that prohibit specific acts of unfair claim practices of insurers. Generally, an insurance carrier, acts in “bad faith” when the insurer had no reasonable basis for denying benefits under the policy and the insurer knew, or had reason to know, that its denial was without reasonable basis.

Generally, the fundamental foundation for a bad faith claim is established at the time of the initial settlement demand letter. The demand letter is significant as it establishes

  • the claimant’s requests to completely and comprehensively resolve his or her claim
  • lays the blueprint for any potential subsequent bad faith action.

This is the equivalent to playing two games of chess on two boards against the same player. Given this, it is good practice when responding to the demand letter to think steps ahead. For example, when you review the demand letter, it is important to determine the reasons why the Plaintiff requests settlement. Compare those reasons against why you believe denial is reasonable. Think about the investigation that you need to undertake to defend the claim. If you strategically review the demand letters like you are playing two games of chess, then you are more likely to obtain a better outcome for your client and the insurance carrier.

Your Opening Strategy

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of opening strategies in chess. You can start with the Baltic Defense, or maybe even the English Opening, or my favorite the Fried Liver Attack. (Don’t ask me what these mean). These opening strategies become the cornerstone for how the game will play out.

Because the demand letter is usually the cornerstone of a bad faith claim, a practical opening strategy in responding to a demand letter is to understand what the Plaintiff included and more importantly what is missing. We have all seen well-thought-out demand letters and poorly drafted demand letters. We have seen the settlement demand packet full of information supporting the claimant’s position for settlement. These demand letters usually contain the claimant’s medical records, medical bills, supporting documents evidencing special damages, witness affidavits, emergency response records, expert data and opinions, truck engine downloads, citations to FMCSA regulations, and other relevant records and documents. However, with every well-thought-out settlement demand packet there is the one page “pay the money” letter, which contains no supporting documents.

Generally, a bad faith claim is ultimately based on the information known to the insurer at the time of denying a claim. A practicable tool in responding to a demand letter is to simply identify what is contained in the demand letter at the outset of the response. This will establish what information was known at the time of the response and, more importantly, confine any argument that the insurer knew or should have known of information that was not presented to it at the time of the denial.

Additionally, identifying documents and information that are missing from the demand letter is great evidence for establishing that the insurer is acting in good faith. Either way, setting forth what the demand letter contains or does not contain also helps evaluate what further investigations that need to occur. Allowing you to think many moves down the road like a chess grandmaster.

Make Sure You Hit the Timer

Making sure you make your move within your allotted time is extremely important. Likewise, many demand letters will be time limited either by a specific date set out in the demand or upon a future event, such as the filing of a lawsuit. Many claimants assert that the insurer’s failure to resolve the matter within the arbitrary time limit set out in the demand is evidence of bad faith. However, many courts have held that an insurer has not committed bad faith if it cannot determine the validity of a claim and respond to a demand letter within the time limit set forth in the offer. See e.g. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Herron, 634 F.3d 1101 (9th Cir. 2011); Grumbling v. Medallion Ins. Co., 392 F. Supp. 717, 721 (D. Or. 1975), judgment aff'd, 545 F.2d 686 (9th Cir. 1976).

In fact, many courts have determined arbitrary and unreasonable time demands that do not allow for an insurer and its counsel to evaluate a claim is not evidence of bad faith. See e.g. Walbrook Ins. Co. Ltd. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 5 Cal. App. 4th 1445, 7 Cal. Rptr. 2d 513 (1st Dist. 1992); Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co. v. Mathis, 511 So. 2d 601 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. 1987); DeLaune v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 314 So. 2d 601, 603 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. 1975); Glenn v. Fleming, 247 Kan. 296, 799 P.2d 79 (1990). 

In responding, you should evaluate the timing of the demand letter. Was it sent shortly after the alleged accident? Has an investigation into the claim been completed? What further investigations need to be completed? This will need to be a case-by-case evaluation. However, when responding to demand letters which set out short arbitrary time deadlines, be sure to include an argument that the time provided was unreasonable and arbitrary.

What amount is being demanded?

Finally, it is strategically important to understand what the demand letter actually demands and what is offered as the release. This may seem to be common sense. However, some demand letters are written so vaguely that you are left guessing at what is actually requested or offered. When an opponent makes a move in chess, it is important not to just respond. Rather, one should attempt to evaluate why that move was made. Likewise, when you receive a demand letter, be sure to understand what the end goal is.

In order to recover against the insurer for bad faith, generally, it must be shown that the claimant made an unequivocal demand to settle the claim arising out of the occurrence and for an amount equal to or within the policy limits. See e.g. Seward v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 392 F. 2d. 723 (5th Cir. 1868), see also 14 Couch on Insurance 3d § 203:18 (2005). As mentioned previously, the rising number of nuclear verdicts and growing number of bad faith claims arising in the trucking litigation field is an ever-present thought for the Plaintiff, the insurer, your client, and you. Given this, the terms laid out in the demand letter need to be established and should not have to be guessed. The reasoning for understanding what exactly is being requested is simple: establishing the exposure.

Courts have held that the absence of a settlement offer within policy limits is not dispositive of the issue of the insurer's good or bad faith, but just one of the factors in determining whether an insurer acted in bad faith by failing to settle. Id. § 203:20, citing Berglund v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 121 F.3d 1225, 1228 (8th Cir.1997); Hartford Ins. Co. v. Methodist Hosp., 785 F.Supp. 38, 40 (E.D.N.Y.1992); and State Auto. Ins. Co. of Columbus, Ohio v. Rowland, 221 Tenn. 421, 427 S.W.2d 30, 35 (1968).Given this, be sure to determine whether the demand letter is requesting settlement within or at the policy limits or if it is requesting more than what the liability policy limits that are available.

Further, you should make it a habit to determine and highlight what is being offered in response to a settlement: i.e. is your client being protected? It has become commonplace for Plaintiff’s counsel to demand the world in a trucking accident, yet take an unreasonable position of not giving anything in return. Despite the common strategy of “sacrificing a pawn” in chess, we do not want to place our clients and their insurer in a disadvantage. When a Plaintiff’s demand letter sets out unreasonable demands, I believe it can be helpful to highlight the unreasonableness of the demands in order to stay ahead of any potential bad faith claim.

By taking into account these opening strategies in responding to a Demand Letter, you can effectively and strategically reduce the exposure of your client and its insurer in the ever-evolving trucking litigation field.

David NasrollahiDavid A. Nasrollahi is an associate in the Wall Templeton & Haldrup, P.A.’s Charleston, South Carolina office. David concentrates his practice in Trucking and Transportation litigation, Insurance Coverage and Defense, Premises liability, and Construction law. David can be reached at David.Nasrollahi@WallTempleton.com.


Drivers' Mental Wellbeing

Using Deposition Consultants to Mitigate Negative Impact on Defense Verdicts

By Peter T. DeMasters and Michelle K. Schaller

Tractor-trailer accidents are complicated lawsuits to defend as there often are many components that an attorney cannot account. While this sentiment applies to many areas of litigation, the most crucial factors to the defense in a tractor-trailer accident is the driver and their testimony. It can seem like a metaphorical flip of a coin to see who your client is, as truck drivers are notorious for having reputations of being brash, harsh, “good ole boys.” Often, when interviewing a truck driver after an accident, they appear defensive and unlikeable. However, a lawyer must present their best possible case to the jury, and this can be difficult to achieve when attorneys cannot relate to their driver clients and get them to present themselves with their best foot forward. When an attorney cannot accomplish that on their own, a deposition consultant may be able to assist.

Consultants can be used in many ways and are often brought in to prepare clients for deposition or trial testimony. In their limited capacity, a consultant gives clients a crash course of the “ins and outs” of a deposition and allows them to practice answering difficult questions in a mock setting. Many times, consultants are used in medical malpractice cases. When physicians are sued, consultants break up the scientific robotic exterior to make these individuals more personable and easier to understand. However, a physician’s emotions do not always negatively affect a pending lawsuit. While they are not entirely immune from feeling the effects of their career, they are trained to handle severe injuries and patients’ deaths. Drivers do not have this experience or training and can be more difficult to prepare.

What happens when, suddenly, a driver who has no training relating to severe injuries or death encounters that situation? They do not have a group of mentors who can review their actions and “clear” them of any wrongdoing like a physician in a peer-review setting. There is no autopsy to review that could exonerate a truck driver from any wrongdoing. There is simply the driver’s story, the witnesses’ stories, and the story of the investigating officer who may just be looking for the easy way out of an investigation.

When a serious accident occurs, a driver has potentially caused or contributed to the severe injuries of others, or worse, fatalities. In a normal situation, this would cause a wide array of emotions including grief, anger, sadness, and fear among others. Adding a potential criminal investigation, civil litigation, depositions, and a jury makes matters worse. Often, a driver has resigned or been terminated as a result of the accident. The driver often feels at odds with their former employer. The driver may even feel alone or defensive due to the fear of the unknown legal landscape they currently find themselves.

These deep emotions are the antithesis of a stereotypical truck driver. Instead, they are looked at as “tough highway cowboys.” According to Shattell, M., Apostolopoulos, Y., Sönmez, S., and Griffin, M. (2010) in “Occupational Stressors and the Mental Health of Truckers,” which appeared in “Issues in Mental Health Nursing,” 31(9):561-568, empirically speaking, truck drivers are more sensitive to negative treatment from the public at large than many would think. Id. Many truck drivers deal with varying levels of anxiety and depression depending upon their location. Id. Certain factors like time pressure, loneliness, and driving conditions are all stressors that are already weighing on driver’s minds, putting immense pressure on them when doing their job. Id.

The mental health and wellbeing of a driver are generally not in the purview of an attorney’s representation of a company following a tractor-trailer accident. Our job is to put forth the best defense and, many times, work to help the company avoid a nuclear verdict and massive punitive damages award. However, when the driver’s health and wellbeing prohibit the best possible outcome of litigation, these issues need to be addressed.

While each consulting firm works differently, one consultant described her role as understanding the emotional storm the drivers are dealing with and understanding what they are struggling with the most. Generally, drivers are hypercritical of themselves, replaying the accident in their heads repeatedly. Having replayed it in their head over months and even years, the narrative often will have morphed and have become more prominent and more expansive than what occurred.

Most litigation occurs years after the accident, reminding drivers of the events they have long tried to put behind them. They are repeatedly reminded that they paralyzed or even killed someone. Therefore, the first step to a successful litigation is to get the driver’s feelings about the accident in check. This can be done by asking simple questions to break down their barriers. For instance, how do you feel about the litigation? How do you feel about the accident?

Asking these simple questions permits the driver to open up and allow them to discuss the accident and their feelings regarding the accident and the litigation after months or even years of attorneys telling the driver not to discuss the matter with anyone. While this seems like a simple task, the process is not as simple as asking, “how are you?” Instead, the process involves building rapport with the driver to the point that they open up and often disclose things that most of their lawyers do not know. For example, a client who appeared distant and secretive, later admitted that he replayed the accident over and over again in his head and would drive his motorcycle daily to clear his head years after the accident.

The purpose behind this session is not to act as a psychologist, but to get the driver to stop stepping in the way of the litigation process with their grief, anger, and sadness. The consultant builds from the initial questions to a point where the driver can begin to think clearly and more rationally. At that point, a consultant can discuss the accident, what is known about the accident, and may demonstrate that liability might not solely rest with the driver.

While much of this training is pinpointed toward addressing a driver’s feelings about the litigation, a consultant can also address the driver’s brash persona and how they can answer questions appropriately. Then, like any typical deposition preparation session, the consultant will then practice this questioning with tools learned the previous day. The second session is critical to teach the driver what the questions will look like. In the age of litigation where reptilian plaintiff’s counsel roam free, a driver needs to handle intense questioning that may arise. However, without the first session, the questioning may not be successful. With the use of a consultant, a quick-tempered and defensive driver, armed with the tactics reviewed and demonstrated by the consultant, should handle offensive questioning much better.

A deposition consultant can provide a difficult driver with an outside perspective, relate to the driver in ways the attorney cannot, and provide the driver with the tools to navigate their deposition. While they are not miracle workers, they can make a bad situation much more manageable.

Peter DeMastersPeter T. DeMasters is Managing Member in the Morgantown, West Virginia office of Flaherty Sensabaugh Bonasso PLLC. Pete has been practicing for more than 20 years. He has an established reputation representing transportation companies and insurance carriers, providing a wide variety of legal services. Pete may be reached at 304.225.3058 or pdemasters@flahertylegal.com.

Michelle SchallerMichelle K. Schaller is an associate in the Morgantown, West Virginia office of Flaherty Sensabaugh Bonasso PLLC. Following a two-year clerkship in the Northern District of West Virginia, Michelle began representing large companies, insurance carriers, and individuals in both state and federal court. She is a member of Flaherty's transportation practice group and rapid response team. Michelle may be reached at 304.225.3052 or mschaller@flahertylegal.com.

From the Chair

Get To Know the TLC

By Stephen G. Pesarchick

We are more than two-thirds of the way through 2021 and still not back to normalcy; however, we are getting close. The Trucking Law Committee (TLC) continues to provide quality publications and programs that will enhance our ability to defend our clients and represent trucking companies.

There are two upcoming TLC webinars that we would like you to attend. Please mark your calendars for the following programs.

  • On November 18, 2021, Clarence C. Easterday, Executive Vice President of Western Express Inc., Dr. Nancy Grugle of Exigent Group Ltd, and Jennifer E. Parrott of Drew Eckl & Farnham LLP are presenting the webinar, “Distracted Driving.” This webinar will provide key strategies that motor carriers and drivers can follow to avoid distracted driving accidents and to defend against these claims.
  • On a date to be determined, Sergio Chavez of Rincon Law Group PC and Tara N.K. Cross of Addelman Cross & Baldwin PC are presenting the webinar, “Building Your Book of Business: Strategies for Establishing Your Personal Brand and Growing Your Law Practice.” You will learn from these two successful lawyers about steps they took to establish their unique brand, developing a marketing strategy aimed at attracting a specific type of client, attracting and pitching prospective clients, and keeping new clients happy.

Patrick Foppe is our Publications Chair. The Trucking Law Committee has writing opportunities for “In Transit,” “The Voice,” and “For the Defense.” If you have a topic or article that you may want published, please feel free to contact Patrick Foppe.

Sergio Chavez is our Membership Chair. If you know of anyone who has an interest in joining DRI or becoming a member of our committee, please feel free to contact Sergio.            

I would also like to thank my Vice-Chair Terrence Graves whose dedication, commitment, and support of DRI and TLC is invaluable.

Finally, this newsletter contains well-written articles that will provide us with additional information to help us defend our clients and represent our trucking companies.

Steve-PesarchickStephen G. Pesarchick has been a partner at Sugarman Law Firm since 1994. The focus of his practice is the handling of catastrophic personal injury cases. His experience covers a multitude of civil litigation matters including construction claims; products liability; transportation claims; automobile and motor carrier accidents; tractor trailer accidents; train accidents; fire claims; premises liability; municipal claims; toxic torts; and wrongful death cases. He has successfully represented claims before the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Division of Human Rights. He is the resident partner of the firm’s Auburn, New York office.