Abusive commercial vehicle litigation is built on presenting misleading evidence to the jury—whether inflated medical bills or prejudicial evidence about a commercial vehicle operator’s conduct. The Legislature can rebalance this by clarifying the rules for how these lawsuits are tried and ensuring juries have the necessary facts to award a fair verdict.
  • Ensures juries are presented with evidence that is directly relevant to causation and injuries in the accident. Evidence of alleged unrelated safety violations should not be presented to the jury except to support a claim for punitive damages in the second phase of a two-part trial.
  • Ensures the case is focused on the events at issue, not on extraneous allegations of improper employment practices by the defendant.
    • A grossly negligent employment practice, however, can be introduced into evidence if it contributed to causing the accident, but upon the defendant’s request, that evidence will be presented during the second phase of a two-part trial.
  • Allows both parties to submit photographs and videos of the vehicles involved in the accident.
  • Allows parties to a lawsuit to present more information about the true value of the healthcare services provided, not just the amount billed by the healthcare provider.
    • Along with evidence of the amount billed, the jury should be provided the amount that would be paid for the services by health insurers, government payors, and other sources so it can determine a fair and reasonable amount to award to the plaintiff.
  • Although often used to avoid the paid or incurred statute, letters of protection are not prohibited in the proposal because they can be used for a legitimate purpose. But the fact that a letter of protection is being used in a case must be disclosed to all other parties to the case.

Note:  Bill language is subject to change throughout the legislative process.

We cannot expect juries to arrive at a fair decision when given misleading, extraneous and purposely prejudicial information. The Legislature can rebalance this litigation by clarifying the rules for how commercial vehicle lawsuits are tried. This will ensure juries have the facts necessary to award fair compensation to Texans who are injured by the negligence of a defendant, while ensuring the litigation playing field is level for all players.

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