Controversial trucking bill does not protect truck drivers anymore
On Wednesday, May 12, the Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance a bill that would protect trucking companies from lawsuits, but leave the truckers unprotected.
House Bill 19 will add limits on the number of lawsuits related to commercial vehicles and allegedly reduce insurance costs. However, it is about protecting large trucking companies, not truck drivers.
Supporters of the bill said they will crack down on address excessive lawsuits and lower insurance costs, which they claim have been escalating. They also said that some companies are going out of business and truck drivers are leaving the industry due to lawsuits.
“I am frightened and alarmed at the commercial vehicle litigation environment in Texas,” said Luann Wagner, CEO of Texas Auto Carriers in San Antonio, told the committee. “We are in an industry that is being unfairly targeted by excessive and abusive litigation.”
Opponents of the bill, including some watchdog groups, said it would become more difficult to hold companies accountable.
The law requires trials to be split similar to what happens with criminal trials in Texas. The company must be judged negligent in a crash in the first phase before the case would proceed to a second phase.
“We want safer roads and we can actually guarantee that safer roads will bring down insurance costs,” said Bay Scoggin, director of the Texas Public Interest Research Group.
Legislators will have to work out differences in the legislation before a final votes could be taken in both chambers.