BATON ROUGE, LA (March 9, 2020) – The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) today urged legislators to support passage of SB 418, the omnibus legal reform bill by Sen. Kirk Talbot (R-River Ridge).
“Sen. Talbot’s legislation is the comprehensive solution to reduce insurance rates and fix Louisiana’s broken legal climate,” said LABI President Stephen Waguespack. “Let’s face it – when it comes to our legal system, common sense tells us we have a big problem to fix. This problem has driven up insurance rates and chased away jobs for too long in Louisiana. Our economy, families, and businesses can no longer afford to pay for this flawed system.”
SB 418 would reform our legal system by:
Lowering Louisiana’s jury trial threshold from $50,000 to $5,000.
Louisiana has the highest jury trial threshold in the nation at $50,000. That means unless your case is valued at $50,000 or higher, a judge rather than a jury, will decide your case. Maryland has the next highest threshold at $15,000 and 32 states have no jury trial threshold.
Ending the collateral source rule.
The current judicially made law prohibits evidence of what was actually paid by a plaintiff in medical bills and allows only evidence of full-price or “sticker price” medical bills to be submitted into evidence, without regard to contractual adjustments for health insurance or limits on reimbursement established by public payors. This allows plaintiffs and their attorneys to recover a windfall that far exceeds both their actual liability for medical care and the costs of health insurance premiums they have paid.
Removing direct action against an insurer.
Louisiana is one of only three states where a plaintiff can sue you and your insurance company. Most states recognize that bringing an insurance company into a lawsuit needlessly encourages larger damages. It’s human nature to see a company in a different light than a real person, but in the end it’s a real person paying a very real bill.
Creating a mandatory 10% rate reduction for personal auto insurance.
This bill will help rebuild competition in our markets, providing real relief for Louisiana ratepayers.
Extending the prescriptions for delictual (torts) actions from 1 year to 2 years for motor vehicle accidents.
A compromise LABI is willing to make provided the other measures remain in place.
Eliminating seat belt gag rule.
Seat belt usage is currently hidden from juries according to state law, even though unbelted occupants typically have medical costs three times higher than those wearing seat belts – as required by law.
“It is worth noting that this bill doesn’t just address the toxic legal climate that causes Louisiana’s high auto insurance rates – it also guarantees a concrete rate decrease,” Waguespack added. “This marks a significant change to this year's version of the bill and we urge the legislature and the governor to fix this now.”
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About the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry was organized in 1975 to represent Louisiana businesses, serving as both the state chamber of commerce and state manufacturers association. LABI’s primary goal is to foster a climate for economic growth by championing the principles of the free enterprise system and representing the general interest of the business community through active involvement in the political, legislative, judicial and regulatory processes. Find out more information at www.labi.org.