FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION—March 1, 2021
Contact: Lucy Nashed
Statement by the Keep Texas Trucking Coalition on SB 17, SB 207, HB 19 and HB 1617
AUSTIN—The Keep Texas Trucking Coalition (KTTC) today released the following statement regarding Senate Bills 17 and 207 and House Bills 19 and 1617, which address abusive lawsuits against owners and operators of commercial vehicles in Texas.
“Abusive commercial vehicle lawsuits are jeopardizing small businesses and the essential services Texas families rely on. As our state works to recover from the pandemic and from the recent devastating winter storm, we can’t let lawsuit abuse kill these critical jobs and endanger our supply chain. The Texas Legislature can provide balance in commercial vehicle litigation by ensuring juries receive the full and accurate facts of a case, ensuring these cases are tried consistently across the state and addressing the ‘phantom damages’ that create a lawsuit profit center. This will make trials fair for both Texans who are legitimately injured and owners of commercial vehicles, while shutting down this job-killing lawsuit abuse. We are grateful for the leadership of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan on this issue, and look forward to being part of the solution to ensure Texas commercial vehicles aren’t unfair targets of lawsuits.”
Senate Bill 207 and House Bill 1617 address these issues by requiring juries to receive information about the true value of healthcare services provided to the plaintiff, not just the amount billed by the provider. Senate Bill 17, which has been reserved by the lieutenant governor, and House Bill 19 create consistency in how these lawsuits are tried and the type of evidence admitted by allowing both parties to present evidence that helps the jury understand the severity of the crash, and prohibit the use of purely prejudicial evidence about safety violations and employment practices that are unrelated to the accident in question.
According to the Texas Office of Court Administration, motor vehicle litigation has increased 118 percent in Texas since 2008, while other types of personal injury litigation have decreased. A lawsuit was filed after one out of every 10 crashes in 2019, up from one in every 17 cases in 2008. This has caused the price of insurance to skyrocket, whether or not a company has had an accident or even owns a vehicle.
Many commercial vehicle operators in Texas are small businesses that simply cannot afford the risk of an abusive lawsuit or the increased cost of insurance. If a company is not forced out of business by the increased burden, these costs are often passed on to Texas consumers in the form of more expensive goods and services.
With more than 300 members spanning businesses and associations across nearly every sector of the Texas economy, the Keep Texas Trucking Coalition is working to ensure the Texas economy, small businesses and employers are not harmed by abusive commercial vehicle litigation. For more information, please visit www.keeptexastrucking.com.