How does Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §72 impact jury trials for trucking companies?
To invoke the protections of Chapter 72 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a trucking company must file a “motion to bifurcate” no later than 120 days after they file their Answer with the Court.
In this Motion, the trucking company must do the following:
1. Stipulate at the time of the accident, the truck driver was its employee; and
2. Stipulate at the time of the accident, the truck driver was acting within his scope of employment with the trucking company.
By timely filing this Motion, the jury trial takes place in two phases.
During the “compensatory damages phase” a plaintiff generally cannot present evidence of the trucking company’s negligence or that the trucking company did not comply with applicable regulations or standards, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.
The exception to this law is a plaintiff can present evidence during the “compensatory damages phase” that a trucking company did not comply with applicable regulations or standards if: (1) the evidence could establish the noncompliance with the regulation or standard was a “proximate cause of the injury or death;” (2) the regulation or standard applies to a duty of care owed by the trucking company to the plaintiff; and (3) the evidence complies with all parts of §72.053(b) of the Texas Civil Practice Remedies Code.
The purpose of this statute, issued by the State of Texas legislature, is to limit what a plaintiff can present during the “compensatory damages” phase of a jury trial.
Specifically, the statute was created to limit direct negligence claims of entrustment against trucking companies.
The result of this law is that during the first part of a jury trial, a plaintiff is limited to presenting evidence of only the truck driver’s negligence in operating the tractor-trailer at the time of accident.
– Written by Jason Kipness