Its Impact of Victims in Commercial Truck Accidents
In June, 2021, the Texas Legislature passed and Governor Greg Abbott signed HB19 into law, significantly changing the process by which a person injured in an accident involving a commercial truck could receive compensation for injuries sustained. The new law went into effect on September 1, 2021. What does the new law say and how will it affect anyone who has been involved in a wreck caused by the carelessness or negligence of a commercial truck driver or truck company?
What Are the Major Changes Resulting from the New Texas Law?
Both proponents and opponents of HB19 say it will make it more difficult for commercial trucking accident victims to recover compensation from trucking companies. The new law essentially sets up a two-tiered system that anyone with a truck accident injury claim must navigate. In the first phase of such a personal injury claim, the victim must establish both the total amount of damages, as well as the negligence of the driver. The injured person may not file a personal injury claim against the company until this phase is complete, and may only file a complaint against the company if the driver is established to have engaged in negligence. In fact, the jury may not be informed as to who employed the driver unless the driver is found to be negligent.
How Does the New Law Change Existing Law?
In Texas, as in all states, the concept of “respondeat superior” has long been applied in situations where a person caused an accident and injury while on the job. The legal principle of respondeat superior, literally translated as “let the superior make answer,” holds that an employer will be liable for an employee’s wrongful acts where those actions are “within the course and scope of employment.” An employer will not, however, be liable when the employee was engaged in purely personal activities, or was in violation of company policies at the time of the accident. Accordingly, a person who causes a motor vehicle accident while running a personal errand, or while driving to and from lunch, will not cause his or her employer to be liable.
Because of the concept of respondeat superior, the typical practice has been to join the employer and employee as parties to a personal injury lawsuit and require that the employer provide evidence that the employee was acting outside of the scope of employment. Under the new law, the employer may not be a party to the lawsuit until the liability of the driver has been established.
Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we know impact that a traumatic brain injury can have on your day-to-day life. If you have been hurt because of the careless or negligent acts of another person, send us an e-mail or call our offices at 844-402-2992. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.