Truck wrecks are a serious problem in Texas. In 2019, the state led the country in fatal accidents involving commercial trucks, with 543 crashes resulting in 613 deaths, and thousands more Texans suffered truck wreck injuries of varying severity. Truck accident injury victims have the right to pursue compensation from both negligent truck drivers and the companies that employ them. However, a bill under consideration in the Texas House of Representatives could make doing so more difficult.
Trucking Company Liability in Texas
Often, when a commercial semi-truck is in an accident resulting in injuries, fault does not lie entirely with the truck’s driver. While a driver could be considered negligent by way of behaviors such as distracted driving, drunk driving, or driver fatigue, the driver’s employer can also be considered negligent for contributing to the circumstances leading to the crash. Common situations that may involve trucking company liability include:
- Improper maintenance or repair of the truck
- Improper loading or securing of the truck’s cargo
- Insufficient record-keeping regarding the truck’s maintenance or the driver’s service hours
- Failure to follow drug testing protocol for drivers
When a trucking company is found to be negligent, they may be liable for a portion of an injury victim’s compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages in some cases.
Possible Changes From Texas House Bill 19
Texas House Bill 19, introduced in early 2021, could significantly impact the standards for establishing a trucking company’s liability in a personal injury case. If the bill is passed in its current form, the following changes would go into effect:
- Admissible evidence of a trucking company’s failure to comply with state or federal laws and regulations would be limited to conduct likely to be related to the specific cause of the accident and injuries, and only that which occurred within two years before the date of the accident.
- An injury victim would no longer be able to file a direct action against a trucking company for injuries caused by an employee acting within the regular scope of their employment.
- A trucking company would only be liable for punitive damages if they are found to have been grossly negligent.
- Awards for future damages of $100,000 or more would be paid periodically, rather than as a lump sum.
Contact a New Braunfels Truck Accident Attorney
At The Bettersworth Law Firm, we are committed to standing up for the rights of injury victims against negligent trucking companies, and we are concerned about legislation that could limit a victim’s options for recovering fair compensation. If you have been injured in a truck wreck and you are unsure how to proceed in the face of these recent developments, contact one of our New Braunfels personal injury lawyers today at 830-443-9193 for a free consultation.