San Antonio

Trucking firms, watchdog groups debate proposed 18-wheeler lawsuit changes

SAN ANTONIO – The Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance a invoice Wednesday morning that may add limits to lawsuits involving business automobiles, together with 18-wheelers.

A model of House Bill 19 has already handed the House, and Senate committee members voted to ship an amended model to the Senate flooring after listening to testimony.



Supporters of the invoice informed lawmakers it would crack down on extreme lawsuits and decrease insurance coverage prices, which they declare have been escalating. They additionally mentioned some firms are going out of business and truckers are leaving the trade due to the lawsuits.

“I am frightened and alarmed at the commercial vehicle litigation environment in Texas,” mentioned Luann Wagner, CEO of Texas Auto Carriers in San Antonio, informed the committee. “We are in an industry that is being unfairly targeted by excessive and abusive litigation.”

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Opponents of the invoice, together with some watchdog groups, mentioned it might be tougher to carry firms accountable.

“No consumer wants to litigate. It’s our last resort,” mentioned Bay Scoggin, director of the Texas Public Interest Research Group. “But we have to have the incentive to correct such that those commercial vehicle companies will take their own steps to protect consumers from crashes.”

The laws would require trials to be cut up much like what occurs with felony trials in Texas. A company must be discovered negligent in a crash within the first part earlier than the case would proceed to a second part.

While security violations might be introduced within the first part, a company’s general security document might solely be introduced up in a second part, the place punitive damages could be determined.

“We want safer roads and we can actually guarantee that safer roads will bring down insurance costs,” mentioned Bay Scoggin, director of the Texas Public Interest Research Group. “And they can’t say the same thing about this complicated legal maneuver that they’re trying to pull.”

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But the trucking trade feels the laws would degree the taking part in discipline.

“This is not an us against them. It’s about what’s fair,” mentioned John Esparza, president of the Texas Trucking Association. “I would want my kids and my wife to have the same access to the court and fair trial as what we’re advocating for.”

Lawmakers must work out variations within the laws earlier than closing votes might be taken in each chambers. If signed by the governor, the brand new guidelines would apply to lawsuits filed after September 1.

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