According to TheAdvocate, a new bill could bring some much-needed reform to the state's auto insurance system.
House Bill 372 is sponsored by state Rep. Kirk Talbot (R-River Ridge) and would include numerous measures to improve the current situation. Lana Venable, executive director of the Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW), is encouraged by the bill and what it could mean for residents and the state as a whole.
“Rep. Talbot’s bill contains several important provisions that address one of the root causes of high insurance rates for both consumers and businesses – the Pelican State’s propensity for litigation,” Venable told Louisiana Record. “The bill includes recommendations by the Louisiana High Auto Insurance Task Force, chaired by Rep. Talbot. Many of these are common-sense reforms that have been attempted unsuccessfully in the past.”
Among the initiatives in the bill is one that would decrease Louisiana’s jury threshold, which is significantly higher than every other state, thus making trials more accessible for the average citizen.
Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch Executive Director Lana Venable
“The bill aims to reduce Louisiana’s $50,000 jury trial threshold – the highest in the nation – to $5,000,” Venable said. “Perhaps it is no coincidence that 53 percent of claims in Louisiana are under $50,000, allowing trial lawyers to go ‘judge shopping’ for favorable venues and denying many citizens their fundamental right to a trial before a jury. This practice manipulates the system and increases insurance costs.”
Additionally, Talbot’s bill would remove direct action against the insurance companies, thereby bringing an end to the collateral source rule that has cost insurance companies and those under their protection thousands of dollars over the years.
“We believe these reforms are a step in the right direction when it comes to addressing the insurance crisis in Louisiana,” Venable said. “The Pelican State is second only to Michigan, a no-fault state. This important distinction requires Michigan drivers to obtain certain basic coverages that pay for medical expenses, wage-loss benefits and other expenses for damage the policy holder’s vehicle does to other people’s property. We must improve our legal climate to make insurance more affordable for all Louisiana drivers.”