COLO. HOUSE PASSES TORT REFORM MEASURES

February 24, 2003

The Colorado House of Representatives voted recently to protect consumers from unjustified lawsuits, which are reportedly driving up the cost of homes, medical care and insurance. In addition, the House Business Affairs Committee defeated a measure to prohibit insurers from using insurance scores. “The House passed several tort reform measures that are designed to reign in costs associated with excessive construction defect and medical malpractice lawsuits,” Michael Harrold, director of state government affairs for the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII), said. “The Business Affairs Committee also took a pro-consumer stance on insurance scoring by defeating a bill that would have banned the use of this tool that helps insurers more accurately allocate the cost of coverage based on a consumers claim potential.” HB 1007 would restore the $250,000 cap on medical malpractice damage awards for pain and suffering. This bill addresses a recent Supreme Court ruling that removed the cap and created a separate category of damages for disfigurement and physical impairment. Since the cap was removed costs have increased. HB 1161 would prevent triple damages being awarded in construction defect litigation. Before a construction defect suit would be permitted to go to trial, the construction company would be allowed to inspect the defect and make an offer to fix it or offer a monetary settlement to the owner. “The House showed courage by advancing these two tort reform bills and we encourage the Senate to rebuff the trial bar and enact these pro-consumer measurers,” Harrold continued. HB 1055 would have prohibited insurance scoring. This bill was defeated in committee in part due to the confidence legislators have in the new insurance scoring regulation adopted by the Division of Insurance in April of 2002. In other legislative action, the Senate passed SB 59, which addresses the sunset date for the Division of Insurance and recreates of the division within the Department of Regulatory Agencies.

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