House Bill Boosts Protections Against Staged Crashes

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Legislation targeting staged vehicle collisions and fraudulent claims affecting the motor carrier industry was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Garret Graves (R-La.) unveiled the Highway Accident Fairness Act of 2021 this month. Their legislation aims to further ensure legitimate claims are pursued fairly and promptly for victims involved in highway accidents.

Specifically, the bill would provide federal jurisdiction over interstate crashes deemed to be of national significance. It also would seek to enhance transparency in the litigation process, and increase certain protections for motor carriers and insurers dealing with fraudulent claims resulting from staged collisions.

The bill’s sponsor also associated their legislative proposal with potential benefits to the freight supply chain.

“Highways are a significant component of our economic supply chain. Every single day, goods flow across states to get food on shelves and products in homes. We must commit ourselves to keeping these transit corridors open and safe all year round,” said Cuellar on Dec. 9. He is a member of the Appropriations Committee.

Cuellar continued, “That is why we must pass this important legislation protecting our truckers from staged collisions that cause dangers for civilians on the road and economic problems for trucking companies [providing] an essential service.”

Graves emphasized the legislation responds to accident-staging operations in his home state, and elsewhere, which have resulted in multimillion-dollar settlements.

“Louisiana drivers pay some of the highest insurance rates in America. This is unacceptable and the solutions don’t require rocket science. Our bill will prevent criminal rings from further increasing the cost to drive and do business in Louisiana,” said Graves, a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “Our legislation cracks down on fraudulent claims, increases safety on the roads, and will help to lower insurance rates for drivers.”

As outlined in the bill’s text, its purpose is to “benefit society by preserving predictability and stability in the movement of freight in interstate commerce and lowering costs to the supply chain and, ultimately, all Americans.”

Additionally, the bill aims to “protect law enforcement agencies and highway departments from expending resources dealing with the aftermath of staged collisions.” It also, if enacted, would “protect the motoring public from the safety hazard of staged collisions between passenger cars and commercial motor vehicles,” according to the legislation, which was referred to a committee of jurisdiction.

Highway Accident Fairness by Transport Topics

American Trucking Associations is a leading industry group endorsing the measure on Capitol Hill.

“We thank Reps. Cuellar and Graves for introducing this common-sense bill to curb rampant lawsuit abuse against the trucking industry. Staged accidents, third-party litigation financing and disproportionate nuclear verdicts are perverting civil justice into a profit center, jeopardizing highway safety and adding more costs and strain to our nation’s supply chain,” said ATA President Chris Spear on Dec. 9. “This legislation would restore balance and fairness to the system and help ensure justice drives accident litigation — not profiteering and windfalls.”

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