Two recent bills, Senate Bill 735 and House Bill 1692 were signed by Governor Greg Abbott that greatly help defendants accused of personal injury and wrongful death and their families. Our attorneys always stay informed of new laws that could benefit our clients. We also are passionate about sharing this knowledge, so clients have the ability to make informed decisions about their case. Here is a fundamental explanation on how these bills help Texan defendants. If you have any specific questions about your case, you need to ask your attorney.
Senate Bill 735
This bill provides unprecedented protection for clients accused of gross negligence in which exemplary damages may be awarded. In the past, when exemplary damages were awarded, the trial had to consider the defendant’s net worth to ensure that the amount awarded was enough to be punitive. This prompted an in-depth and intrusive look into the defendant’s private financial information. Senate Bill 735 changes the definition of “net worth” to be specified on a particular court date which will limit discovery time. The bill also requires a showing of “substantial likelihood of success on the merit of a claim for exemplary damages.” This bill will lift the burden from providing financial information unless exemplary damages are likely to be awarded.
House Bill 1692
A popular legal doctrine, forum non conveniens, states that if a court is more appropriate forum to hear a case, the court may dismiss or refuse to hear the case. Each state has their own method for determining whether venue is appropriate or not. Texas has used residency along as a basis of maintaining a lawsuit in its jurisdiction. As long as one party in the lawsuit was a Texas resident, venue was proper. House Bill 1692 puts restrictions that prevent non-residents from filing lawsuits for injuries that occurred outside of Texas. This will free up court time for residents of Texas that suffered injuries within the state.