Litigating Broker Liability for Trucking Accident Injury Claims: Theories of Liability, Defenses, Preemption

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will examine the liability of property (cargo) brokers and shippers for injuries sustained in trucking accidents. The panel will discuss the prevailing theories of liability, including negligent hiring, selection, vicarious liability, and the statutory employment doctrine. They will also examine how brokers and shippers are mitigating risks, as well as the defense arguments that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) preempts all such claims.


Plaintiffs are increasingly suing and recovering claims for negligent selection or hiring of carriers and vicarious liability. Negligent selection happens when the broker selects a carrier that is not competent to perform the work. A property broker can also be held vicariously liable if it retains the right to control the motor carrier.

Some brokers argue that a motor carrier has operating authority with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and means they are safe and qualified. Other brokers may also rely on a motor carrier's adequate rating and crash history with the FMCSA as sufficient assurance and proof that the carrier will operate safely with adequately trained drivers. Brokers may examine motor carriers' safety records, sometimes using third-party services like SaferWatch or Carrier411, in addition to the information publicly available through the FMCSA. Using these practices and tools, plaintiffs seek to learn whether the broker has developed a policy around its data; if not, the revelation requires a response argument from the defense.

Added into this mix, several federal district courts, but no circuit courts, have found that the FAAAA preempts these types of claims. On the other side, the FAAAA contains wording that appears not to restrict a state's safety regulatory authority concerning motor vehicles. The majority of federal courts have held as a matter of law that recognizing claims for negligent selection and hiring is a valid exercise of state police powers, including one federal circuit court.

Listen as this experienced panel guides counsel through making or defending the case against brokers and, in some cases, shippers.



  1. Overview of property (cargo) brokering
  2. Property (cargo) broker liability theories
  3. Key discovery/docs in broker cases
  4. How transportation indemnity agreements impact trucking cases
  5. Preemption issues


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What is a property (cargo) broker?
  • What regulations apply to property (cargo) brokers?
  • What theories of liability are available against brokers?
  • Is the liability risk increased or decreased when a broker uses third-party software to monitor safety?
  • What is the status of the FAAAA preemption defense?
  • How do you prove your case?
  • What practical strategies are available?
  • How do you try a broker liability case?


Leizerman, Michael
Michael Jay Leizerman

The Law Firm for Truck Safety

Mr. Leizerman’s entire caseload consists of catastrophic truck crash claims, including a recent settlement of $34...  |  Read More

Leizerman, Rena
Rena M. Leizerman

The Law Firm for Truck Safety

Ms. Leizerman concentrates her practice in the area of serious personal injury and wrongful death involving truck...  |  Read More

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