The release of an American Tort Reform Foundation report naming Louisiana as the fifth worst judicial hellhole in the U.S. recently prompted Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) to comment on the issue.
Among the factors contributing to the classification are lawsuits against energy companies that allege coastal damage is linked to their operations, tort lawsuits regarding Americans with Disability Act compliancy issues and auto insurance premiums.
"Unfortunately, it should come as no surprise that Louisiana has been named a 'judicial hellhole' for the ninth consecutive year," Lana Venable, executive director of LLAW told the Louisiana Record.
Venable said that auto insurance premiums are one of the biggest problems when it comes to the hellhole classification of Louisiana as it makes it challenging for residents to afford coverage.
Lana Venable Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch website photo
"The Pelican State is the second most expensive state in the nation for auto insurance, where premiums have increased significantly for four consecutive years. In 2017, the annual average premium in Louisiana was about $600 more than the national average," Venable said.
What's more, New Orleans and Baton Rouge are among the top five cities in terms of insuring a vehicle, and bodily injury claims are about twice the national average despite the number of incidents being consistent with other states.
"This results in a cycle of many Louisiana drivers who are uninsured or underinsured turning to the court system for larger accident payouts. As a result, Louisianans are forced to pay much higher premiums," Venable said.
Unfortunately, Venable said, the Louisiana Legislature failed to pass crucial legislation in 2018 which would have tightened requirements in court for auto accident cases and made evidence admissible in court if an individual was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of an incident
"This is only one example of simple, common-sense legislation that would help make auto insurance more affordable for hardworking families," Venable said. "Real reforms are needed for our citizens and businesses who are paying for the effects of lawsuit abuse every day."