Texas Injury Lawyer Discusses the American Rule and House Bill 274 as Passed

February 21, 2012 by

As a Texas injury lawyer, I paid close attention when House Bill 274 was ultimately signed into law on May 30, 2011 because it threatened the American Rule, and thus the ability for my clients to seek justice in a court of law. After it passed in the House, it went to the Texas Senate, where it faced serious opposition. Many changes were made that affected a number of civil cases, such as insurance bad faith, product liability, negligence cases, and premises liability cases.

 One such change was made to the language regarding Chapter 42, which allowed litigation expenses to be awarded to a party beyond an offset of the judgment. It did away with the uncapped award of litigation costs to ensure that a plaintiff would not owe more to the defendant in litigation costs than he or she was awarded in the case. But potentially, a plaintiff could win the suit and be awarded nothing, and it was still left to the defendant to trigger Chapter 42 to be used by either party.

 This is a system that clearly favors the defendant and puts undue pressure on a plaintiff who is simply seeking to find justice for himself or herself.

 Texas Injury Lawyer: Why These Changes Matter

 With the new “loser pays” system, every Texas injury lawyer must take into account the possibility that Chapter 42 could be enacted by defendant, which deepens the imbalance between the defendant and the plaintiff. In the end, it is possible for a Texas injury lawyer to win the case for his or her client and yet have the plaintiff receive nothing if litigation costs must be paid.

 What’s more concerning is the trend of attacking the American Rule, which helps to enable everyone – even those without large financial means – to have their day in court. This principle has been a part of our legal system since the founding of our nation and helps to keep the playing field between the plaintiff and the defendant even. Increasingly, it’s not just a Texas injury lawyer that needs to be concerned as these attacks bleed into other areas of the law.

 If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, contact Marc Whitehead, a board certified personal injury attorney in Houston, Texas or download our free ebook, Car & Truck Crashes, 10 Secrets Victims Should Know To Protect Their Rights.