Texas Supreme Court

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Texas Supreme Court adopts “seat belt defense” 

February 13, 2015

The Texas Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion reversing forty years of precedent and dramatically affecting the defense of vehicular personal injury lawsuits. Specifically, the Court adopted the “seat belt” defense – seat belt evidence is now admissible to the same extent as any other evidence in Texas courts. Further, failure to buckle up is not limited to negligence per se under the seat belt laws but also may count as ordinary negligence, for children as well as adults.

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

September 04, 2014

In its brief, the U.S. Chamber argued that evidence of failure to use a seat belt in an automobile accident is admissible as evidence under current Texas state law. The coalition argued that Texas law has moved to a tort liability system based on proportionate responsibility. As a result, Texas juries are to consider all factors contributing to a plaintiff’s injuries, not just which driver caused an accident. The amici’s brief also argues that Texas law, custom and public policy have well established the value and effectiveness of seat belts; a jury assessing facts and circumstances of an accident can determine that a person’s failure to use a seat belt qualifies as negligence.

The U.S. Chamber filed this brief jointly with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Victor Schwartz, Phil Goldberg and Scott A. James of Shook, Hardy & Bacon served as co-counsel to the amici with the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.

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