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Bad News from Austin: Perry's Vetoes Hurts Texas Personal Injury Victims

Austin continues to be a source of bad news for personal injury victims.  Staying true to form, Governor Perry rushed to beat legislative deadlines so he could veto numerous bills from the last legislative session.  Unfortunately, two of his vetoes really hurt Texas auto accident victims.

The first veto was of House Bill 3281, which clarified a prior bill that was enacted in 2003.  The 2003 bill contains confusing language that was the subject of a lot of litigation.  This session the house and senate passed a clarification almost unanimously (the bill passed 139-0 in the house and 28-2 in the senate).  The clarification would have prevented people that cause car wrecks from gaining an advantage because a victim was smart enough to buy health insurance.  Pandering to big business and insurance companies, Perry vetoed the bill, and once again left the confusing issue to be decided by Texas courts.  Today, Texas Watch issued a press release describing the situation in more detail.

The second veto involved HB 1519, a bill that limited chiropractors’ abilities to solicit victims of car wrecks.  An increasing problem for Texas car wreck victims and for legitimate Texas car wreck and personal injury attorneys is some personal injury attorneys circumventing attorney solicitation rules by using chiropractors.  Under some schemes, chiropractors contact victims, and then the chiropractors refer the victims to attorneys, sometimes allegedly even having agents for the attorneys waiting in the chiropractor’s offices for the car wreck victims to arrive.  We’ve previously written about this problem here. The house and the senate addressed the problem by putting limits on how soon after a wreck a chiropractor could solicit a victim of a car wreck.  Again, pandering to others, Perry vetoed this important legislation.

The one source of good news for car wreck victims was the passage of SB 502, which increased the minimum liability limits from $20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident to $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident.  Unfortunately, these limits don’t go into effect until 2008.

Mark Perlmutter and Brooks Schuelke are Austin personal injury lawyers.

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