Transportation NewslettterThe Smith Moore Leatherwood Transportation Industry Group is a full-service business operations and risk management advisor to the transportation industry across the United States.  The team has developed a nationally  recognized presence in representing trucking companies of all sizes, trucking insurers, shippers, and brokers/intermediaries. Members of the team serve as national and regional counsel for several trucking insurers and national counsel for a number of trucking companies with headquarters in the Southeastern United States and beyond. 

We assist motor carriers and intermediaries with:

Defending Accident Claims
The largest part of the group's work is related to the investigation and defense of claims ranging from catastrophic injuries and fatalities to property damage and cargo losses and includes the work of the firm's emergency response team.  For more information on the emergency response team, please click here.  Our lawyers have tried hundreds of truck accident cases, with experience in claims relating to negligent hiring, supervision, retention, and training of drivers. 

Broker Liability Claims
Another area of the group is defending "broker liability" claims.  These claims against brokers for the negligent contracting of motor carriers involve unique issues that are familiar to our team.  Our lawyers are the first known to have raised FAAAA preemption in the broker liability/tort context.

Insurance Coverage Issues
Our lawyers have handled a number of nationally publicized appeals on the MCS-90 and related filings for truck insurers.  Other coverage issues relating to trucking policies are the frequent subject of our case dockets. 

Freight Claims
The firm also serves as national counsel on freight claims issues for several insurance companies and motor carriers, handling freight claims litigation in a number of states at any given time.  Our lawyers are frequent instructors at  freight claims seminars.

Transportation Contract Drafting and Review
Our lawyers write many of the transportation contracts in use around the country.  From Motor Carrier – Shipper Contracts, to Independent Contractor Agreements, to Lease Purchases, these are everyday work for our team.

Safety Rating Determination, Data Q Challenges and Civil Penalties
Motor Carriers are often targeted for enforcement by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  While these agents are doing their jobs in trying to keep our roads safe, our lawyers are trained to find hope in challenging regulatory decisions.  Whether it is a fine, an unfavorable safety rating, or a Data-Q, our trucking practice group is ready to evaluate and respond.

Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) Claims
The Safety Regulations may also be used by employees or former employees who assert "whistleblower" claims under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.  These highly specialized claims must be taken seriously by motor carriers and other transportation entities.  These statutory claims can be a nightmare if not handled by knowledgeable and competent counsel.  Our lawyers are familiar with these claims and are prepared to help you navigate the land mines.

Labor & Employment Services
Our team includes labor and employment lawyers ready to handle your day-to-day human resources issues or the most acute situations involving terminations, covenants not to compete, back solicitation clauses, and other issues that keep you from sleeping at night.  Our team drafts employee handbooks and  job descriptions from everyone from drivers to dispatchers.

Our worker's comp defense team defends employers in claims ranging from the routine back injury to catastrophic loss and knows the intricacies of unique state statutory laws, including the unique NC Statute § 97-19.1.  Additionally, our people have substantial experience when it comes to defending worker's comp claims asserted by independent contractors and the "uninsured" allegations of the state enforcement agencies.

Collection of Freight Charges
Finally, our team is versed in the trucking industry specific rules concerning the collection of motor carrier freight charges, including the "double payment" rule, when a freight broker becomes insolvent. 

Members of the firm are also engaged in representing transportation companies and their owners in:

  • Employee Benefit plans (ERISA)
  • Wealth transfer management
  • Corporate planning and structuring, including mergers and acquisitions
  • Real estate purchase and finance

Emergency Response Team
As part of the array of transportation services provided to firm clients, our 24/7 emergency response team is standing by to serve clients with urgent needs following a catastrophic accident. The team has handled numerous night time and weekend emergencies for our clients. 

Members of the emergency response team take responsibility for preserving physical and electronic evidence, taking driver and witness statements, making arrangements for cargo salvage, and managing relations with law enforcement. Additionally, firm clients benefit from the team’s knowledge of substantive experts and criminal defense counsel.

Click here for a full contact list of our Emergency Response Team.