Trucking Industry’s Legislative Agenda

I’m hearing some troubling things about the proposed legislative agenda being pushed by the trucking industry, such as their desire to increase truck/trailer weight limits from 80,000 lbs. to 97,000 lbs. and to once again try to increase the hours a trucker may drive without rest.

With all the trucking activity around Texas and the Fort Worth/Dallas area, the last thing we need is to let the trucks drive heavier, faster and longer. Truck wrecks and deadly accidents happen all too frequently as is and too many carriers are cutting costs by scaling back on safety and maintenance. What we do need is smarter and more-effective regulation and increased law enforcement to adequately police for violators.

Hidden Costs of Tort Reform

A disturbing trend is emerging due to “tort reform” Fewer injured consumers are able to be fully compensated through the court system and more are being forced onto taxpayer-funded government and charity healthcare programs. For example, a baby injured by medical negligence can’t recover damages because of tort reform, and thus is cared for from now on by Medicaid. Or a worker is injured by a defective product but preemption shields the manufacturer from liability, so the worker goes onto Social Security Disability.

It is sad and ironic that one of the darlings of conservatives – tort reform and reduced access to the courthouse – is shifting this burden onto taxpayers, a burden which was once shared with the insurance industry.

Who Gets Hurt Most by “Tort Reform?”

Women, children, the elderly, minorities and those who are less-affluent, according to a study done by two professors at Emory University. Here is the abstract to the article:

“Tort reform may not affect all segments of society equally. Studies have shown that many tort reforms disproportionately reduce compensation to women, children, the elderly, disadvantaged minorities, and less affluent people. This study goes beyond tort reform’s disproportionate effect on compensation, to explore whether tort reform also has a disproportionate effect on accidental death rates. We explain that, theoretically, tort reform’s care-level effects and activity-level effects may disproportionately impact the accident rates of different groups. Using the most accurate, comprehensive data on medical malpractice tort reforms and state-level data from 1980-2000, we examine empirically whether tort reforms indeed have such a disproportionate effect. The results from our empirical analysis are consistent with our theoretical predictions. We find that the impact of tort reform varies substantially among demographic groups. When we consider the net effect of all the reforms in our study together, our results suggest that women, children, and the elderly do not enjoy tort reform’s benefits as much as men and middle-aged people. In fact, they might even be harmed by reform.”

Tort reform not working? Gosh, who knew?

Good article in the Texas Observer dispels one of the big myths foisted upon Texans by the insurance industry in pushing “tort reform” back in 2003.

Quote: “Proposition 12, and the far-reaching changes in Texas civil law that it dragged behind it, was built on a foundation of mistruths and sketchy assumptions. The number of doctors in the state was not falling, it was steadily rising, according to Texas Medical Board data. There was little statistical evidence showing that frivolous lawsuits were a significant force driving increases in malpractice premiums. Perhaps the most insidious sleight of hand employed by Proposition 12 backers was their repeated insistence that medical malpractice insurance rates were somehow responsible for doctor shortages in rural Texas…The campaign’s promise, that tort reform would cause doctors to begin returning to the state’s sparsely populated regions, has now been tested for four years. It has not proven to be true.”