Truck accidents are unlike any other mishaps on the Texas highways. They happen for a wide variety of reasons, and truck driver error is not always the cause. While drivers are responsible for inspecting loads before and during transit, they commonly are not the actual entity that is making the decision for them to continue driving without required inspection. This vicarious liability in Texas has historically fallen upon the trucking company that controls its actions or a shipping contractor that has loaded a container or trailer ineffectively. That vicarious liability potential could be about to change in Texas.
Pending legislation protecting shipping companies
The new legislation recently proposed by one Texas lawmaker will possibly serve to protect many shipping companies in Texas from liability when their drivers are involved in truck accidents. Vicarious liability is typically how most injured victims are made financially whole when a truck accident goes to court, and according to the new law, the truck driver must be found liable before the employing company or shipping contractor can be identified in the damages phase of the case following a trial.
Impact on case settlements
One of the major impacts this will have on injury and wrongful death cases is that negotiating settlements in order to avoid going to court will be severely hampered. Claims must be qualified first in the case against the driver before shipping companies or contractors can be sued based on material evidence established in the initial case. This could also have a serious impact on egregious negligence in truck accidents as well even when the employing company is indeed significantly responsible.
Luckily for truck accident victims, the legislation has yet to pass the full Texas legislature, but it is clearly on the agenda. The actual basis for the new law is statistics indicating that accident cases have over doubled in the past decade while injuries and deaths have gone down.