HB 19 protects the rights of Texans who are truly injured in a commercial vehicle accident, while reducing opportunities for some trial lawyers to manipulate evidence at trial to seek millions in damages in cases where the commercial vehicle owner was not at fault or the plaintiff was not injured.
HB 19 will help ensure the “rules of the road” for highway accident cases are applied in a uniform and fair manner in all Texas courtrooms.
In turn, this will literally save small businesses operating commercial vehicles in Texas from bankruptcies and closures by freeing up money currently spent paying sky-high insurance premiums for more productive purposes.
- A defendant can request a two-part trial in any case involving a commercial vehicle. Two-part trials are already used in both civil and criminal cases in Texas.
- In all commercial vehicle lawsuits, the negligence of the driver, the negligence of the employer in maintaining the vehicle, and compensatory damages are determined in the first phase of trial. In some cases, the employer’s negligent entrustment of the vehicle to the driver is also determined in the first phase. Liability for and the amount of exemplary damages for all causes of action is determined in the second phase of trial.
- In regard to evidence of regulatory violations, HB 19 codifies the well-established law of negligence per se.
- HB 19 creates a presumption that photos and videos of the vehicles involved in the accident will be admitted into evidence.
- Finally, HB 19 requires TDI to conduct a six-year study on the effect of the bill on insurance rates and availability and report its findings to the Legislature before each regular session.