AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bill that would shield trucking companies from certain lawsuits if their driver were involved in a crash causing bodily injury or death passed in the Texas Senate on Wednesday.
Under the legislation, the driver of a commercial vehicle would be held liable for a crash separate from their employer. A plaintiff would have to demonstrate that a company was grossly negligent with its training or policies in order to seek damages from the company directly.
The Texas Senate made one amendment to House Bill 19, which passed in the lower chamber in April. The House will have to approve the Senate’s version of the bill before it can be signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.
“House Bill 19 will help ensure the rules of the road for highway accident cases are applied uniformly and fairly in all Texas courtrooms,” Sen. Larry Taylor, a Pearland Republican, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The legislation was pushed by the trucking industry, which claimed frivolous lawsuits against commercial vehicle operators had surged in recent years, creating an unsustainable business model. Texas’ personal injury attorneys fought against the bill, arguing it would give trucking companies a free pass and make roadways less safe.
Thomas J. Henry, a personal injury attorney, contacted KXAN wanting to share his thoughts on the bill in April.
“What they’re doing is they’re taking the largest corporations and they’re trying to give them a free pass, a free break, and they’re going to try to pass that along to the consumers,” Henry said in an interview.
All but one senator voted in favor of the legislation on Wednesday. Democrat Sen. Borris Miles changed his ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ after the initial vote was taken, according to Quorum Report.