Texas H.B. 19: Revised Version Still Hurts Truck & 18-Wheeler Accident Victims
While proposed legislation to limit truck accident liability in Texas has been revised in response to widespread public outcry, the bill would still make it far more difficult for injured victims and their families to hold negligent trucking companies accountable after a crash.
How H.B. 19 Would Let Trucking Companies Off the Hook
Currently, trucking and other transportation companies are liable for a victim’s injuries and damages when their driver causes a crash.
Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, the original version of Texas H.B. 19 would have required accident victims to prove “grossly negligent” behavior before they could sue a company whose employee caused injury or death. Otherwise, liability would shift entirely to the trucker.
The revised version would force truck and 18-wheeler accident victims to first sue the truck driver before taking legal action against their employer. They would also be prevented from introducing evidence that incriminates the trucking company at trial, even though the company was responsible for hiring and overseeing the driver.
Texas Has Led the U.S. in Truck and 18-Wheeler Accidents Since 2016
H.B. 19 doesn’t contain a single provision to improve safety, even though Texas has led the nation in commercial trucking crashes every year since 2016.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the state saw truck accident fatalities jump 105% from 2009 to 2019. More than 39,000 commercial vehicle crashes occurred in Texas in 2019, resulting in 613 deaths and 6,204 injuries.
“The trucking legislation will only make our roads more dangerous in Texas,” said Ware Wendell, Executive Director at the non-profit safety group, Texas Watch.
“It takes the focus away from the trucking companies’ misconduct and their wrongdoing and safety violations. It focuses instead on just the truck drivers’ conduct in the seconds leading up to the crash,” he continued.
Texas H.B. 19 Sponsor Has Trucking Industry Ties
Critics of Texas H.B. 19 have also noted Rep. Leach’s close ties with the trucking industry.
For one thing, he is a member of a law firm that defends trucking companies against accident and injury claims. Obviously, his clients stand to benefit if the bill actually does become law.
What’s more, Leach’s various political campaigns have received $1,069,431 in donations from Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, a powerful lobbying firm that advocates for laws that would generally benefit large, deep-pocketed corporations. The PAC donated more than $1 million to the Leach campaign in 2009 alone.
It’s not clear when the new version of H.B. 19 will come up for a vote. Texans who oppose this legislation still have time to contact their state representatives and voice their opinion.
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