A bill that would make it harder to successfully sue commercial trucking companies moved forward Thursday afternoon after a series of postponements on the House floor.
According to the bill’s author, Plano Republican Jeff Leach, the legislation would create a fair framework that ensures victims in collisions involving commercial vehicles can have their day in court, while also protecting commercial motor vehicle operators from excessive lawsuits. The legislation passed 93-52.
“With passage of this bill, we will see commercial vehicle insurance rates fall in the state,” Leach promised.
The Keep Texas Trucking Coalition praised the passage of the bill Thursday evening. According to a statement the coalition released Thursday, more than 550 businesses have supported his bill as written.
“The Texas House has taken an important step to ensure our legal system provides appropriate remedies for injured Texans without allowing rampant lawsuit abuse to wreak havoc on small businesses,” the statement read.
According to the bill analysis, the number of motor vehicle lawsuits have increased by 118% since 2011.
“In many instances, the person being sued is not at fault, yet must spend increasing amounts of money in court and to purchase insurance coverage,” the analysis reads.
But opponents of the bill argue that Texas roads remain dangerous and HB 19 would potentially let commercial operations off the hook.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of truck crashes in Texas increased 27 percent from 2016 to 2019. The state has had more truck wreck fatalities than any other.
“This bill turns its back on the hundreds of Texas families who experience tragedy in commercial truck accidents each year,” said Adrian Shelley, Director of Public Citizen Texas, 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.”
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