All motor vehicle accidents in Texas center around liability and fault. Injured parties who are not at fault for the damages they suffered have a right to pursue financial compensation for the impact of their injuries. For commercial trucking accidents, the standard rule has historically been that justice should be served and those damages paid by all negligent parties, including vicarious third-party liability situations that often involve Texas shipping companies. However, a new liability law in the state may be about to change that judicial goal.
Protecting the employer
HB19, which passed in Texas, is designed to insulate shipping companies from liability in certain cases when their drivers are involved in accidents. In the past, even when a truck driver was not primarily at fault for truck accidents, an employing transportation company could be held liable for damages when negligence could be proven within a preponderance of the presented evidence. That potential ends with HB19.
Impact on truck accident claims
The new law would require first that a trucking accident be evaluated for driver fault before any other element could be assessed. Texas uses modified comparative negligence law that bars a claimant from compensation for injuries if they are 51% at fault or greater. The law would require that the truck driver be at least 51% at fault or have the highest fault percentage in an accident before the employer can be pursued for damages, which could severely impact compensation in catastrophic accident situations.
This new law still has yet to have a dramatic negative impact on truck accident adjudication. The problem is that there may eventually be a case when a shipping company is proven negligent but not required to pay damages due to the new truck driver fault requirement.