The Dangers of Texas House Bill 19
Texas legislators are working to pass legislation called House Bill 19, also known as HB 19. This proposed legislation protects unsafe trucking companies from being held accountable for truck accidents caused by their negligence. If passed, HB 19 will shield trucking companies from responsibility when their negligent acts hurt and kill Texas citizens, deprive the injured and surviving families of full justice, and make Texas roads more dangerous for everyday drivers. HB 19 provides a disincentive for trucking companies to operate their for-profit businesses responsibly and safely. In effect, the passing of HB 19 will allow trucking companies to avoid being held accountable for the harm they cause to innocent people.
It is a well-known fact that Texas roads are some of the most dangerous in the country. This legislation is void of any language or effect that would encourage or require trucking companies to operate their companies more safely or comply with existing trucking safety regulations and laws that, if followed, would reduce the number of truck crashes on Texas roads. If the goal is to reduce the amounts of verdicts awarded against trucking companies and the money their insurers must then pay because of people hurt and killed in truck crashes, then lawmakers should pass legislation that works to reduce the number of truck crashes on Texas roads. The people of Texas need legislation that focuses on preventing truck crashes, promoting trucking safety, and protecting the citizens of the state. Legislation like HB 19 that deprives Texans of the right to full justice when harmed by the negligence of a trucking company is not only unnecessary, it is cruel.
This bill prevents a jury and the public from knowing the truth and the full story of how and why a truck crash happens. In effect, it allows a trucking company to hide its negligence and bad acts behind its truck driver involved in the accident. It is only when a trucking company is held accountable for its negligent acts that it will be motivated to change, operate responsibly and safely, hire drivers with safe driving records, adequately train its drivers, implement policies and procedures that promote safety, and comply with state and federal regulations whose purpose is to protect the public.
Having a Commercial Driver’s License is a privilege, not a right, as is operating a trucking company. Trucking companies, specifically motor carriers, are required to register with the U.S. Department of Transportation before beginning operations. In doing so, they must agree to comply with established regulations developed to ensure the safety of the motoring public. For intrastate motor carriers, the most important safety regulations have been adopted by the state of Texas. For interstate carriers, a motor carrier is required to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations. The purpose of these regulations – state and federal – is to establish basic rules that truck drivers and trucking companies must follow to promote safety and protect the motoring public.
When a trucking company fails to follow the regulations – when it fails to follow the clearly established rules – those failures should not be hidden from a jury. The citizens of the state of Texas are trusted to vote and elect their representatives, and when those same citizens are jurors, they should also be trusted with the whole truth of how and why a truck crash happened, including all of the acts of the trucking company and the truck driver that caused or contributed to the crash. HB 19 allows the trucking company to hide facts from the jury that show the whole story of how and why a truck crash happened. When the truth is hidden, justice will not be done, there will be no accountability for the failures of the trucking company that caused or contributed to the crash, and the trucking company will have no reason to change its conduct.
Actions must have consequences. A trucking company’s negligent acts – whether hiring unsafe or unqualified truck drivers, failing to train drivers, failing to supervise drivers, failing to ensure truck drivers comply with clearly established company safety policies and procedures, or requiring truck drivers to drive hours in excess of what is permitted under regulations whose purpose is to prevent driver fatigue –must have consequences, especially if that negligence results in a truck accident and injures another driver. When a trucking company whose negligent acts cause or contribute to a crash is not held accountable, when there are no consequences, when a jury is deprived of all the facts they need to understand and determine what happened and why, there is no incentive for a bad actor – a negligent trucking company – to change its conduct.
The answer to safer roads is for trucking companies and their drivers to follow common-sense rules for safety and comply with clearly established state and federal regulations whose purpose is to protect the motoring public – to protect Texas families. As Texans, we have the right to expect truck drivers and trucking companies to follow the rules and act responsibly. In sum, this legislation provides a free pass to negligent trucking companies, discourages them from striving to operate a safe company, and will deprive people injured in trucking accidents and surviving families of justice.
Tell your representatives that you oppose HB 19 here, and sign the petition against the passing of HB 19 here. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck accident, call our Truck Accident Lawyers today to see how we can help. Call us at 713-224-9000, or fill out our contact form.