Looking to 2021
The votes are in for the 2020 election, and while the results of a handful of races are still being finalized, by and large, we know what Texas’ Senate and House will look like in the upcoming legislative session.
The men and women who will serve in the Legislature will face important tasks next year, as the pandemic continues to cast uncertainty over everything from the state budget to the logistics for committee hearings at the Capitol.
One thing is certain—the decisions made by legislators in 2021 will have a lasting impact on our state’s economy, job creation and future opportunities for Texas families.
At a time when many Texans are struggling, we should be doing everything we can to support job creation and economic growth in our state. For TLR, that starts with shutting down job-killing lawsuit abuse whenever and wherever it occurs, and there is no bigger area of lawsuit abuse today than commercial vehicle litigation.
As we’ve outlined previously, the data demonstrates the problem. Texas has seen a 118 percent increase in the number of motor vehicle lawsuits filed since 2008. In 2019, a lawsuit was filed after one of out every 10 crashes, compared to one in 17 in 2008. That is almost double the rate of lawsuits in just over a decade. The biggest indicator that this is not an organic phenomenon is that the severity of crashes—those that result in fatalities, serious injuries or any injuries at all—has increased relatively slowly over the same time period (4.4 percent, 3.5 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively).
Any vehicle with a logo on it is a target—from delivery vehicles to home contractors to rideshares. Any accident—regardless of who is at fault—can result in a lawsuit.
Lawsuit abuse of any kind affects all Texans, even if they’ve never filed a lawsuit themselves. Unnecessary lawsuits can jam up our courts, slowing down the process for legitimate lawsuits when Texans have truly been injured.
Lawsuit abuse also creates a cost that trickles down to all of us, in the form of the Tort Tax. With many commercial vehicles supporting essential services, including the delivery of food and goods to our homes and store shelves, we cannot afford to let the abuse continue. Too many people rely on commercial vehicles for their wellbeing, and for their livelihoods.
Case in point: Texas was just named the top state in the nation for foreign direct investment projects and Free Trade Zones by Site Selection Magazine. No doubt that our transportation infrastructure—including the commercial vehicles that shuttle goods and services across the state—play an important role in this distinction. Lawsuits against commercial vehicles put all of that in jeopardy.
This is one of many issues we are watching for the upcoming session, some of which we will discuss in the coming weeks. While many things will be different this legislative session, many things will remain constant. Texas has a proven formula for economic success—it is what made us the nation’s job creation leader for over a decade. Relying on that formula will help move Texas forward in 2021 and beyond.