In a push to bring much-needed reform to Louisiana, state Rep. Kirk Talbot is sponsoring House Bill 372, which will change how courts handle car accident cases in an effort to subsequently lower auto insurance rates.
This monumental bill passed the House last month.
According to TheAdvocate, HB 372 is accompanied by two other bills, SB 154 and HB 229, each of which would bring more rigid guidelines to auto-related lawsuits.
“Senate Bill 154, which would remove from the jury’s hearing the decision over whether to introduce that a wreck victim was not wearing a seat belt, is on the agenda Monday for a full vote by the Senate,” according to TheAdvocate.
Meanwhile, HB 229 would impact the usage of cellphones while driving.
One of the biggest and perhaps most positive changes of HB 372 is the reduction of jury trial threshold. Currently, the state's threshold is $50,000. HB 372 would decrease that threshold to $5,000. The bill would also increase the time that victims of crashes have to file a lawsuit from one to two years.
The Pelican Institute for Public Policy is encouraged by the proposed legislation and optimistic about the changes that it promises to bring.
“The legislation currently being considered presents important opportunities to reject the entrenched status quo that has resulted in Louisiana having some of the highest auto insurance rates in the nation,” James Baehr, general counsel for the Pelican Institute, told Louisiana Record.
Baehr also believes that the change is optimally timed as a number of insurance companies have had to leave the state because of the incredibly high costs to them.
“Considering the departure of multiple insurance companies over the last year, we know that time is of the essence to enact these important reforms to provide some much-needed balance to our lopsided legal system,” Baehr said.
Baehr believes that with the appropriate approach to the situation, Louisiana may be able to enjoy some much-needed reform.
“The Pelican Institute addressed these issues and more in our recently released legal and regulatory reform policy paper, and we encourage all Louisianans to review and talk to their elected leaders about the solutions we offer in the new report,” Baehr said.