What Does Texas HB 19 Mean for Truck Accident Claims?

In September 2021, Texas House Bill 19 (HB 19) went into effect, significantly impacting truck accident claims across the state. This new legislation introduces several changes to the way lawsuits involving commercial vehicle accidents are handled, aiming to protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits while ensuring fair compensation for genuine claims. In this blog, we will explore the key provisions of HB 19, its implications for truck accident victims, and what you need to know to navigate your claim successfully.

Key Provisions of Texas HB 19

Texas HB 19 introduces several critical changes to the litigation process for truck accident claims:

  1. Bifurcation of Trials: HB 19 mandates the bifurcation (or splitting) of trials into two phases. The first phase addresses liability and compensatory damages, while the second phase focuses on exemplary (punitive) damages. This means that evidence related to a trucking company’s safety record or other potentially prejudicial information is not introduced until the second phase.
  2. Evidence of Compliance: During the first phase of the trial, evidence of a trucking company’s compliance with safety regulations cannot be used to prove liability. Instead, this information is reserved for the second phase, where it may be considered for exemplary damages.
  3. Negligence Per Se: HB 19 limits the use of “negligence per se” claims against trucking companies. Plaintiffs can no longer use violations of certain safety regulations as automatic proof of negligence. This raises the burden of proof for plaintiffs, requiring more substantial evidence to establish negligence.

Implications for Truck Accident Victims

The changes introduced by HB 19 have several implications for truck accident victims in Texas:

  1. Increased Complexity: The bifurcation of trials and the restriction on evidence use increase the complexity of truck accident litigation. Victims will need experienced legal representation to navigate these new procedures effectively.
  2. Higher Burden of Proof: With the limitation on “negligence per se” claims, victims must present more comprehensive evidence to establish the trucking company’s liability. This may involve extensive investigations and expert testimonies.
  3. Potential Delays: The bifurcated trial process can lead to longer case durations, as the two-phase trial structure may prolong the litigation timeline. Victims should be prepared for potential delays in reaching a resolution.

Navigating Your Truck Accident Claim Post-HB 19

If you are involved in a truck accident in Texas, understanding the impact of HB 19 on your claim is crucial. Here are some steps to help you navigate the process:

  1. Seek Experienced Legal Representation: Given the complexities introduced by HB 19, having a knowledgeable attorney with expertise in truck accident claims is essential. They can help gather the necessary evidence, navigate the bifurcated trial process, and advocate for your rights.
  2. Gather Comprehensive Evidence: Collect as much evidence as possible from the accident scene, including photos, witness statements, and police reports. Your attorney will also conduct a thorough investigation to build a strong case.
  3. Understand Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with your rights under Texas law. While HB 19 introduces new challenges, you are still entitled to fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

Authoritative Resources

For more information on Texas HB 19 and truck accident claims, consider visiting the following authoritative resources:

Conclusion

Texas HB 19 brings significant changes to truck accident litigation, aiming to balance the interests of businesses and accident victims. While these changes introduce new challenges, understanding the law and seeking experienced legal representation can help you navigate your claim effectively. If you have been involved in a truck accident in Texas, contact Ryan Orsatti Law today for a free consultation and let us help you secure the compensation you deserve.