October 4, 2023


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TX HB 19 Changes Trial Procedure for Truck Accident Lawsuits

TX HB 19 Changes Trial Procedure for Truck Accident Lawsuits

Truck incident lawsuits are extremely challenging. If you or a member of your household was in a collision with a commercial truck, pursuing the compensation you have earned will possible be an uphill battle. Current variations in Texas regulation make it far more tough for plaintiffs to seek out most damages for their accidents and losses.

Household Monthly bill 19 (HB 19) went into influence September 1, 2021. The law amends the Texas Civil Observe and Treatments Code to improve the demo proceedings for legal actions involving commercial trucks and other vehicles utilized for professional functions.

Patrick Daniel Legislation has intensive practical experience dealing with truck incident lawsuits, and we can assist you comprehend what could take place if your scenario goes to trial. For a free of charge circumstance evaluation, please get in touch with (713) 999-6666 nowadays.

Do I Need to have to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

Not all truck accident circumstances go to demo. It might be possible to negotiate a favorable settlement without having likely to courtroom or even filing a lawsuit.

However, the complicated difficulties in truck accident claims normally make it vital for claimants to file a lawsuit. Ultimately, seeking the circumstance in court may be the only option for looking for compensation.

A number of defendants might be liable in a truck accident lawsuit. Two of the most typical are:

  • The driver of the truck
  • His or her employer (i.e., a trucking firm)

Trucking organizations are substantial and strong. Whilst industrial carriers and their insurance policies corporations will typically try out to keep away from the uncertainty and expense of a demo, it is not unusual for them to contest liability, make lower settlement delivers, and/or refuse to negotiate. If these issues can’t be prevail over via negotiations, your lawyer may well counsel filing a lawsuit.

Read through Additional: What to Be expecting from Promises Towards Large Trucking Providers

Truck Accident Lawsuits Below HB 19

When it was introduced, the sponsors of HB 19 argued that the bill would defend trucking providers and other corporations from so-referred to as “unjust and too much lawsuits.” To do this, HB 19 modified the lawful process Texas courts use for promises involving semi-trucks and other business autos. Whilst trucking providers and other businesses can continue to be held liable for the incidents drivers cause, the course of action for accomplishing so is much more challenging.

HB 19 establishes a bifurcated demo course of action for truck accident lawsuits. “Bifurcated” implies divided into two. According to Part 72.052 of the Texas Civil Follow and Solutions Code, a defendant need to file a motion for a bifurcated trial prior to whichever of the adhering to dates is later:

  • “the 120th day just after the day the defendant bringing the motion documents the defendant’s unique answer or
  • “the 30th working day following the day a claimant information a pleading adding a declare or trigger of motion towards the defendant bringing the motion.”

The court will critique the movement and come to a decision irrespective of whether to grant or deny the defendant’s ask for for a bifurcated trial.

How Do Bifurcated Trials Get the job done?

A lot of professional motor car or truck accident claims are brought on the grounds of respondeat excellent. Latin for “the learn must respond to,” respondeat excellent is a authorized theory that imposes vicarious liability on an employer for the carelessness of an employee when acting in the capability of his or her work.

Less than the changes designed by HB 19, statements primarily based on respondeat excellent may possibly only continue if the defendant employer stipulates the adhering to:

“at the time of the accident, the individual functioning the car was:

  1. the defendant’s personnel and
  2. “acting in the scope of work.”

Texas Civil Practice and Therapies Code § 72.054

If a professional carrier helps make these stipulations, the plaintiff is barred from presenting evidence versus the employer for the industrial driver’s “ordinary negligence” (i.e., carelessness or recklessness) until the driver is observed to be at fault for the incident. Efficiently, this divides the demo into two individual stages: to start with comes the motion from the driver, then arrives the motion against the employer.

A bifurcated demo for a commercial motor auto accident proceeds as follows:

1st Stage

The liability of the personnel defendant (i.e., the professional driver) is decided in the 1st period of a bifurcated trial. If the truck driver is uncovered liable for the incident, the court docket awards the plaintiff compensatory damages. This might include things like payment for:

  • Previous and long run health care costs
  • Reduction of earnings
  • Reduction of earning capability
  • Ache and struggling
  • And far more

Beneath the bifurcation framework created by HB 19, proof in opposition to the trucking firm is typically not admissible in the to start with demo stage. On the other hand, Texas Civil Observe and Remedies Code § 72.053 allows proof of the failure of the employer defendant to comply with applicable restrictions and standards to be offered in the initially period of a bifurcated trial in the pursuing situations:

  1. “the proof tends to establish that failure to comply with the regulation or standard was a proximate lead to of the bodily harm or dying for which damages are sought in the action and
  2. “the regulation or conventional is unique and governs, or is an ingredient of a obligation of care applicable to, the defendant, the defendant’s employee, or the defendant’s house or products when any of people is at concern in the motion.”

Also, if an employer defendant is subject to regulation less than the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 or Chapter 644 of the Texas Transportation Code, proof of the adhering to may well also be offered in a bifurcated trial’s very first stage:

  • The fitness and skills of the personnel driver at the time of the incident, together with:
    • Licensing and limits
    • Disqualifications from driving a commercial vehicle
    • Out-of-support orders
    • Health care certification
    • Texting and other cellular phone usage
    • Refusal to post to screening for a managed substance
  • The employer defendant’s actions prior to the incident regarding:
    • Authorizing the employee driver to operate a business motor automobile
    • Screening for controlled substances
    • Out-of-provider orders

This evidence may possibly only be offered in the first phase of a bifurcated demo in aid of a declare of negligent entrustment (i.e., the employer entrusted a professional car to a driver who was not certified to work it).

Second Section

If the court finds that the truck driver “was negligent in working an employer defendant’s business motor vehicle” in the 1st period of a bifurcated trial, this “may serve as a basis for the claimant to proceed in the 2nd stage of the trial on a claim versus the employer defendant” (Texas Civil Observe and Treatments Code § 72.052). Through the 2nd period of trial, the court will also make a resolve as to punitive or exemplary damages.

Exemplary damages may only be awarded if the plaintiff provides clear and convincing evidence that the damage happened as a final result of fraud, malice, or gross negligence on the part of the defendant (see Texas Civil Practice and Cures Code § 41.003). This is a bigger standard than the 1 expected to demonstrate standard negligence. Powerful proof from the trucking company (which includes prior violations) is expected to prevail.

Get Assist with Your Truck Accident Lawsuit

A person yr following it was enacted, the comprehensive results of HB 19 on truck incident litigation even now continue being to be found. If you were very seriously injured or shed a cherished one particular in a truck accident, you should not have to worry about authorized complexities. You need to have an knowledgeable legal professional with a complete being familiar with of the regulation who can help you navigate your situation.

Patrick Daniel Regulation has comprehensive practical experience managing truck accident lawsuits. We are Strategic, Meticulous, and Merciless in our commitment to maximizing payment for our clientele. This may possibly consist of negotiating a favorable settlement on your behalf or filing a lawsuit and (if vital) using your scenario to trial.

Call Patrick Daniel Law currently for a no cost scenario overview. Legal professional Patrick Daniel serves customers in the course of Houston, all of Texas, and nationwide.