Texas – State lawmakers passed two bills that protect businesses from lawsuits when they cause serious injury or death of a person, House Bill 19 and Senate Bill 6. House Bill 19 makes it more difficult to get punitive damages when a person is injured or killed as the result of a trucking accident. Senate Bill 6 provides immunity to doctors and pharmaceutical companies during a declared state of emergency, such as the pandemic.
In March 2021, Rep. Jeff Leach brought forward legislation: HB 19. The law requires a two-part trial for accidents involving commercial trucks. But this is only if requested by the defense.
Part one would focus on fault. It would also center on the amount of economic and non-economic damages you should be awarded. Part two would focus on fault as well. However, the second part of the trial would deal with “punitive damages”. The new law limits specific evidence that can be introduced in a truck accident case, such as failure to comply with trucking regulations or standards.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR TEXANS INJURED IN TRUCKING ACCIDENTS?
Let’s say a trucking company overworked their truck driver, who then hit you while driving in their exhausted condition. The law requires the fact that the trucking company overworked their trucker – violating trucking regulations – to be inadmissible.
Here are some fast facts about Texas roads:
- According to TxDOT: From 2009 to 2019, the number of deaths involving big rigs in Texas jumped 105% from 318 to 652.
- Texas ranks first for most large truck crashes nationwide yearly from 2016 â€“ 2020.
- In 2019, Texas had more large truck crashes than Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Oklahoma combined
- In 2020, there were 823 fatalities caused by truck wrecks in the state of Texas
- In 2018, 305 truck drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive for at least one drug.
Why Is Texas HB 19 Bad For Texas?
If there is one point that you can make from Texas truck accident statistics, it’s that:
TEXAS DRIVERS ARE AT EXTREMELY HIGH RISK OF BEING INJURED OR KILLED BY A COMMERCIAL TRUCK.
Here are all the ways that Texas HB 19 is bad for Texas:
- Protects trucking company’s from being financially liable for hurting or killing their victims.
- Texas victims would be left to foot the bill for trucking company accidents, causing a disastrous amount of persons to file for bankruptcy.
- Removes the right to a fair trial in a Texas court for every truck accident victim.
- Protects untrained truck drivers and trucking company’s who fail to properly train their drivers.
- Encourages trucking company’s to cut corners even more so, resulting in more accidents on our Texas roads.
This law puts the safety of Texans who travel the roadways last and the profits of trucking companies first. The lawmakers (mostly Republicans) who voted to pass this law have taken over $10,000,000 from Texans for Lawsuit Reform. You can see who those legislators are here and in the picture below.
Every member voting in support of HB 19, to make Texans less safe and make it harder to sue trucking companies in Texas received money from Texans for Lawsuit Reform who advocated for this legislation to pass. In total, those lawmakers represent over $10,000,000 in donations from TLR since 2015. Top recipients of TLR money who supported the legislation are: Jeff Leach $1,112,930, Lacey Hull $668,000, Matt Shaheen $645,000, Jacey Jetton $643,000, Mike Schofield $535,000, Brad Buckley $521,000, Angie Chen Button $586,000, Giovanni Capriglione $315,000, and Matt Krause $248,000. Is this what Texans elected these Republicans to do?
The second bill that put the people second was SB 6. This bill was the bill that Republicans had hoped would eliminate vaccine mandates as this bill addressed many issues arising as the state went into a state of emergency during the Covid 19 response. The bill did not provide protections for Texans, however. Instead, it provides further protections for nursing homes that came under fire during the pandemic. It also provides protections for medical providers and pharmaceuticals for death or injury resulting from treatment for disease during a state of emergency, including vaccines and other experimental treatments. It also provides protection for neglecting to provide care in a state of emergency. This legislation is retroactive to the time that Governor Abbott called the state of emergency in 2020 and it puts Texans at risk as we do not yet know the risks associated with treatments provided during the pandemic and as many were denied care or limited to certain protocols. This legislation protects corporations, not Texans. God help Texans if there is another state of emergency. Texans for Lawsuit Reform also supported this bill. Republican representatives in the House overwhelmingly supported the legislation, including several members of the Texas Freedom Caucus (known from here on out as the Texans for A Little Bit of Freedom Caucus), including Matt Krause, David Mayes Middleton, Gary Gates, Matt Schaefer, Matt Shaheen, Cody Vasut, Valoree Swanson and John White.
MadMommaBear previously reported on the influence of Texans for Lawsuit Reform where the vaccine mandates were concerned. In the 87th 3rd Session, HB 155 sought to ban vaccine mandates. Texans for Lawsuit Reform, along with several other business organizations, medical PACs, and City Chambers opposed the bill. But only TLR had over a million dollars in donation money donated to members of the committee hearing the bill. The bill never advanced to a vote in the House. Texans still are losing their jobs or being penalized by employers with stipends for not having the vaccine. Texans for Lawsuit Reform and the Texas Representatives who carry their water because they have taken money from them continue to undermine the freedom and safety of Texans.
Before you vote, check to see how much money your candidate has taken from Texans for Lawsuit Reform. You can search by candidate name at this site. Ask yourself if you feel like a candidate whose top donor is TLR will place the safety and freedom of you and your family first.