How Texas Personal Injury Cases Are Affected By New Laws

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The governor’s final day to sign or veto bills passed by the state legislature was Sunday. Fortunately, the right of Texans to access the courts and recover damages was not adversely affected. Of the 7,500 bills introduced and 1,400 passed, here are several that affect the car and truck crash cases we have specialized in for almost 40 years at Berenson Injury Law.

HB 1693 AFFIDAVITS TO PROVE MEDICAL RECORDS AND BILLS

The plaintiff must file his medical records and bills with affidavits proving that the service was reasonably priced and necessary and itemize how much of the bill was paid and how much is due. The new law accelerates the filing deadlines by requiring that affidavits be filed 90 or 120 days after the defendant’s answer is filed/experts deadline.

SB 2342 EXPEDITED ACTIONS and JURY PANELs – Effective on 9/1/20

A new procedure where cases requesting damages of less than $100,000 can be expedited applies to cases with requested damages up to $250,000 and the limits of county courts at law are increased to that amount. The limit for justice of the peace courts doubles to $20,000. Six-person juries used in county courts at law will expand to 12 people. Effective January 1.

SB 891 NEW WAY TO SERVE DEFENDANTS VIA FACEBOOK AND STATE WEBSITE and NEW COURTS
A defendant can be notified on social media or by publication on a website operated by the state for certain cases (none involving personal injury). Further, certain counties will be granted new district and county courts and judges get pay raises.

HB 2929 HOSPITAL LIENS – Effective on June 10, 2019

The Texas Property Code regulates how hospitals can secure payment by filing a lien even if the patient was only admitted to the emergency room. The amount the hospital can recover is capped at 50% of the total recovery and the protection in Civil Practices & Remedies Code Section 146.003 cannot be overridden. Became effective June 10th.

HB 259 NAMED DRIVER POLICIES

Some auto liability companies have sold “junk policies” which excluded many drivers from coverage. This law prevents these policies from being sold.

HB 1631 RED LIGHT CAMERAS

This controversial issue and the Supreme Court case which had just held that they were legal may increase the number of intersection collisions.

These new laws become effective on September 1st unless otherwise noted.

The following bills did not pass:

HB 649 AUTO LIMITS DISCLOSURE

Would have permitted a claimant to learn if the at-fault driver had liability insurance and how much his policy limit was.

HB 3832 / SB 1215 MEDICAL BILLS NON-PAYMENT

Would have required the court to punish the plaintiff for not having his medical bills paid by his health insurance company, even if there was a valid reason that did not happen.

HB 1739 UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED LAWSUITS

Would have removed the requirement that an insured driver have to first obtain a judgment against the responsible driver before he could file for benefits under his UM/UIM policy.

HB 1348 AUTO REPAIRS

Would have required car repair shops to use quality parts and also permit policyholders to pick their own repair shop.

HB 2374 “SWOOP AND SETTLE”

Would have stopped auto liability companies from pressuring injured people to release their claims immediately after the collision.

Thanks to the Texas Trial Lawyers Association for this analysis.

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