Missouri Governor Signs Tort Reform Legislation

July 13, 2017

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has signed legislation that the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America says will help improve the legal climate in that state.

According to PCI, SS/SCS/HCS/HB339 and 714 is comprehensive insurance tort reform legislation that will help curb the abuses associated with section 537.065 and the time-limited demand settlement process.

Under this process an injured party and the insurance policyholder can work together to obtain a judgment exceeding the insured’s policy limits through an uncontested trial, PCI said.

According to the insurer trade group, the legislation aims to modify the section 537.065 settlement agreement process in the state’s insurance code so that insurers may intervene in the underlying lawsuit as a matter of right and limits entry into a 537.065 agreement to insureds whose insurers have declined coverage or refused to defend then without reservation.

Additionally, the bill establishes standards for time-limited demands.

The bill summary provided by the Missouri General Assembly states that, among other things, HB339 “provides that a time-limited demand to settle any claim for personal injury, bodily injury, or wrongful death must be in writing and sent by certified mail to the tortfeasor’s liability insurer, and it must include various material terms specified in the bill.

“Additional information, as provided in the bill, must accompany the demand including authorizations to allow the party to obtain records from all employers and medical care providers.”

In a statement released by the association, Hilary Segura, counsel, state government relations for PCI, said the “bill allows insurers a reasonable minimum level of information about a claim before they are forced to make a settlement decision that could expose them to ‘bad faith’ liability.”

Other tort reform bills signed by Gov. Greitens include:

  • SB31, which makes changes to the collateral source rule (paid v. billed damages) so parties can only introduce evidence of the actual cost of the medical care rendered, instead of the value of those costs rendered.
  • SB 43, which brings standards for lawsuits in Missouri in line with 38 other states and the federal government. The bill requires the use of the “motivating factor” standard for employment discrimination cases. The “motivating factor” standard is used by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in analyzing claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • SB 88, which gives veterinarians the same malpractice coverage as doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals.
  • HB 452, which says that, with certain exceptions, no healthcare provider shall be liable for the negligence of another entity or person who is not an employee of the healthcare provider.
  • HB153, which creates a higher standard for expert evidence, improves the reliability of expert witness testimony, and puts Missouri in line with a majority of states regarding the standard used for expert testimony.

Sources: PCI, Missouri Governor’s Office, Missouri General Assembly

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