Texas Passes Law To Make It Harder to File Auto Accident Lawsuits Against Delivery, Rideshare And Truck Drivers

The legislature in Texas has passed a law that could prevent residents of that state from filing lawsuits over injuries and damages sustained in car accidents caused by drivers of delivery trucks, Uber or Lyft ride shares or other commercial vehicles.

The law went into effect earlier this month in Texas, requiring plaintiffs to demonstrate grossly negligent behavior in order to file a lawsuit against a company when its’ driver’s actions resulted in injury or death during a crash. Without meeting that bar, plaintiffs can only file a claim against the driver, and immunity is provided for the trucking industry, companies using delivery trucks, as well as rideshare businesses, such as Uber and Lyft.

“Gross negligence” in Texas law means an act of omission which, when viewed objectively, indicates a party acted with an extreme degree of risk, was aware of the risks involved in their actions “but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.”

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The law, which was introduced as House Bill 19 earlier this year by Texas state representative Jeff Leach, went into effect on September 1.

Proponents of the law, including trucking companies, say they have seen a skyrocketing rate of personal injury lawsuits filed against them over the last couple years. According to a legislative analysis conducted on the bill, motor vehicle lawsuits in Texas have increased 118% over the last 11 years, while the analysis claims actual collisions have only seen increases in the single digits.

Critics of the new law say the move is intended to protect businesses at the expense of the state’s citizens, who may find it difficult to get fair compensation following an auto accident if they cannot file claims against companies who employed the negligent drivers.

Detractors also note that the law does nothing to protect the individual drivers from litigation, who often have far less resources and liability protection. Under the new law, the drivers are still liable for their actions. However, in many cases medical bills and damages exceed minimal amounts of insurance coverage provided for the negligent driver and companies will no longer have any incentive to make sure they have careful operators for their vehicles without any excess liability exposure.

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