Last year, the Texas legislature changed the ways in which truck accident injury victims need to go about holding negligent and reckless truck companies accountable for any harm that they cause. Essentially, the governor signed a bill into law that allows truck companies to compel victims to navigate a bifurcated trial approach at their request.
This means that, in order to hold a trucking company accountable for causing harm, an injury victim will likely need to endure two trial phases. In the first phase, they’ll seek compensatory damages against any truck driver involved in the crash in question. In the second phase, they’ll seek exemplary damages from the trucking company if the first phase was successful.
Why this approach is problematic
There are several reasons why the new Texas law is unreasonably burdensome to truck accident injury victims. First, it assumes that there are no circumstances under which a trucking company could be liable for harm at the same time that a truck driver is not. This is simply not consistent with reality.
Second, it allows potentially negligent or reckless trucking companies to dictate the “rules of the game.” While the company in question gears up for a legal fight, the injury victim must first mount a case against the truck driver and wait to present their case against the company at the request of that very company.
Finally, it places all of the potential liability for compensatory damages on the driver and only leaves the company in question potentially liable for exemplary damages, which are only awarded under extreme circumstances.
Understanding the challenges of the new bifurcated system will hopefully inspire more injury victims to seek legal assistance in the hopes of having a fighting chance against trucking companies that cause harm.