The Louisiana Senate has agreed to change the rules for lawsuits over car wrecks, aiming to limit damage claims against insurance companies and other businesses.
The Senate voted 29-8 for the bill by Republican Sen. Kirk Talbot of River Ridge. The Republican-led “tort reform” effort is a priority of business lobbying groups.
The proposal would require use of jury trials more frequently, so lawyers have to argue damage claims to more people than a single judge; cap certain damages that can be awarded; limit when insurance companies can be sued directly; and increase the time accident victims can file lawsuits to provide more time for settlement negotiations.
Supporters say the bill would force down Louisiana’s car insurance rates, which are second-highest in the nation. They say Louisiana’s legal climate encourages too many car wreck lawsuits, driving away insurance companies and pushing up premiums.
Opponents say the changes would keep people from getting money needed to cover their medical bills and could drive up costs for courts.
The measure assumes insurance companies would drop premiums for private passenger policies by 10% a year after the changes take effect in 2021. But it includes a provision allowing companies to avoid rate cuts.
Senate Bill 418 heads to the House for debate, where a similar bill won committee support.
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