A bill that would limit the ability of Texas truck and 18-wheeler accident victims to sue trucking companies after a crash is one step closer to becoming law, having passed the state House last Friday.
While backers of H.B. 19 argue that the proposed legislation is needed to protect trucking companies from “excessive” lawsuits, opponents maintain that its provisions merely grant companies a free pass to escape responsibility.
How H.B. 19 Would Affect Truck Accident Lawsuits
Texas law currently allows injured victims and their families to sue a trucking company when their driver’s actions cause a crash. But H.B. 19 would require a plaintiff to prove that the trucking company was “grossly negligent” to pursue a lawsuit. Otherwise, only the truck driver involved in the accident would be liable for damages.
The bill would also require bifurcated trials in truck accident lawsuits. Plaintiffs would only be permitted to present evidence of unsafe motor carrier safety practices during the second phase of the trial after successfully establishing fault during the first phase.
H.B. 19 is being sponsored by Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, an attorney with ties to the commercial trucking industry.
Texas Led U.S. in Truck & 18-Wheeler Accident Deaths in 2019
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of commercial trucking crashes in Texas increased 27% from 2016 to 2019. Texas also reported more truck accident fatalities than any other state in 2019.
Critics of H.B. 19 point out that it doesn’t contain a single provision to make Texas roads safer and instead places the welfare of businesses over citizens’ health and well-being.
“This bill turns its back on the hundreds of Texas families who experience tragedy in commercial truck accidents each year,” Adrian Shelley, Director of Public Citizen Texas, said in a statement. “It limits corporate liability and throws roadblocks into the recovery process for grieving families. Texas has a series truck crash problem, but HB 19 is far from a solution.”
Even those backing the bill have voiced reservations about some of its language. According to the Dallas Morning News, a series of amendments aimed at clarifying certain provisions were added to the bill ahead of last Friday’s vote.
H.B. 19 passed the Texas House by a margin of 81-59. It must still pass the state Senate and be signed by the Governor before becoming law.
Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consult with Our Undefeated Texas Truck Accident Lawyers
With billions won – including the Largest Truck Accident Settlement in Texas for 2019 — on behalf of our clients, our Undefeated Houston 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers have the resources and ability to ensure the victims of negligent trucking companies have the financial resources to care for themselves and their families for the rest of their lives.
If you or a loved one were injured or tragically killed in a commercial trucking accident, call 1-888-603-3636, use the form on the right, or click here to send us a confidential email.
All consultations are free and, because we only work for a contingency fee, you won’t owe us a dime unless we win your case.