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'Nuclear' Verdicts Have Insurers Running From Trucks

Oct 21, 2016 at 01:33 PM CST

Truckers are finding it harder and costlier to line up coverage for their fleets, as a wave of blockbuster payouts over accidents pushes insurers out of the market.

The number of people killed in accidents involving large trucks fell 20% in the last decade, according to the Transportation Department, though it ticked higher last year. But a string of so-called "nuclear" verdicts, where juries award tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to families of accident victims, have made the financial consequences of those crashes harder to predict.

The 2014 accident involving a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. truck that injured several people, including comedian Tracy Morgan, and killed another is widely seen as a watershed. That case didn't go to a jury, but the children of the man who died received $10 million in a settlement, while Mr. Morgan and Wal-Mart settled separately for an undisclosed amount.