Recent State Laws Are Making It Harder To Sue Trucking Companies After Crashes

Very recently, many states have passed a number of laws in favor of the trucking industry. However, the newest of the lot has received a backlash from citizens, as it makes it harder for them to sue trucking companies in case of crashes caused due to the negligence of truck drivers. Needless to say, the new law has received tremendous support from the trucking lobby.

The constant lobbying of the trucking industry has resulted in the approval of seven laws in three years, all for the benefit of truck drivers and trucking companies. The new laws have been introduced and implemented in Texas, Florida, and Iowa, where the number of deaths caused due to truck crashes is the highest. The legislation not only makes it difficult for victims to sue trucking companies but also puts a cap on the compensation they can win if the lawsuit is in their favor.

The law comes as a surprise to residents of Texas, Florida, and Iowa, where more than 5000 people die every year due to truck crashes. The number has increased by 50% in the past decade. The only way out for the victim or the victim’s family is to claim compensation from trucking companies, as the death resulted from the truck driver’s negligence. However, the new law has been enacted solely with the intention to cut down on the number of ‘frivolous’ lawsuits and exorbitant payouts that trucking companies often end up shelling out in case of accidents.

Texas had the highest number of deaths due to truck accidents, reporting 643 deaths in the year 2020. In 2021, Texas passed a law stating that trucking companies cannot be sued unless the driver of the truck has been found liable by the court. This law was welcomed by the American Trucking Association (ATA), stating that it would protect trucking companies from unfair and biased courtroom tactics. Another law also shifted the focus of trials in trucking lawsuits from compensation to evidence. Attorneys are now more focused on the facts of the incident and whether the company was negligent on the hiring or vehicle maintenance front.

Florida, on the other hand, stands third in the United States in the number of accidents reported due to truck accidents. The state has passed a number of laws that have altered civil litigation, specifically relevant to the trucking industry. For personal injury lawsuits, the new law has reduced the statute of limitations from four to two years. Safety advocates state that the shorter time frame to sue hinders victims and their families to demand accountability from trucking companies in crash cases. The new reforms aren’t favorable to victims, who often state that the first two-three years post the accident can be completely disorienting for them.

Iowa has passed laws to restrict the amount of damages that can be claimed by defendants. The cap is primarily on non-economic damages such as compensations that cannot be measured easily (for example, loss of a child).

Apart from Texas and Florida, other states are passing new tort reform laws. In Louisiana and West Virginia, rules that prevented defense lawyers from bringing in evidence of whether the plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident have been repealed. Missouri, on the other hand, raised the bar for payment of punitive damages by trucking companies. They are satisfied with the progress of their campaign to pass more laws in favor of truck drivers.

Safety advocates are of the opinion that there is no point in shielding trucking companies from legitimate liability. Rather, the emphasis needs to be on how accidents can be prevented in the first place. Mark Geistfeld, professor of civil litigation at the NYU Law School, (referring to industry groups) stated, “They call it reform, but historically most of the reforms have been about cutting back on liability.”

He also added, “The idea, ultimately, is if the businesses are forced to pay for the liabilities of their drivers, then the businesses are going to adopt safety measures to try to make sure that they can do as much as possible to keep drivers from getting into crashes,” he said. “And that’s obviously good for society.”

In case you require any clarifications about these new laws introduced in different states across the United States, feel free to contact an Austin truck accident lawyer for the same.

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By | 2023-07-24T15:23:00+00:00 July 24th, 2023|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Recent State Laws Are Making It Harder To Sue Trucking Companies After Crashes