In a push to bring much-needed insurance reform to Louisiana, state Rep. Kirk Talbot is sponsoring House Bill 372, which would bring numerous changes to how courts handle car accident cases and presumably lower auto insurance rates.
This significant bill passed the House last month. According to The Advocate, HB 372 was recently debated for three hours by the Senate panel and was eventually referred to the fiscal office to seek out details on how much it would cost.
While it was hoped that the bill would be easily passed, opponents are arguing that HB 372 may prevent victims from collecting what they are owed following an accident; however, one of the biggest and perhaps most positive changes of HB 372 would be the reduction of the jury trial threshold. Currently, in the state of Louisiana, the threshold is $50,000, but HB 372 would decrease that threshold to $5,000, which would give more individuals the opportunity to seek out justice in the courtroom.
Louisiana Free Enterprise Institute, a group “dedicated to advocating on behalf of the principles of free enterprise and promoting public policy that fosters an environment for economic growth,” commented on the bill and its attempted reform measures.
“The legislature has tried tort reform before, and those measures have been swiftly killed. The difference this year is the public's demand for legal reform given the high auto insurance rates they're being forced to pay,” Executive Director Marie Centanni told Louisiana Record. “People are paying attention, the legislature feels it, and the gimmicky procedural moves reflect that pressure.”
While there may be distraction tactics being used by the legislature, Centanni feels hopeful that Louisianans are paying closer attention this time around.
“They're doing a different dance under a spotlight than they would have done in the dark,” Centanni said. "But the public isn't fooled, they can clearly see which legislators are champions of free enterprise and which ones are there to protect the status quo."