Car accidents are extremely common. You won’t live your life without being involved in at least a few. That’s why car accident lawsuits are common too. People get badly injured, or even worse, are killed. Generally speaking, people can be barred from building a case against an at-fault driver in court when insurance-related alternatives are available. That means that insurance companies themselves are often the target of these lawsuits.
Republican lawmakers in Louisiana are pushing to place strict caps on damages recouped by drivers involved in car accidents. Not only will this result in unfair compensation, but lawyers will make less money too. And that’s not necessarily a good thing, since most personal injury lawyers are paid only if they win a case. The new Republican push might result in unexpected blowback somewhere down the road — but no one’s thinking of that.
Those in favor of the potential legislation believe that these lawsuits result in higher insurance rates. They believe that the state might gain more business if the rules are changed. But opponents of the legislation say that there’s no reason to believe that, and ask for empirical data to support those claims. To date, there’s none forthcoming.
Worse, those involved in terrible car accidents might never be able to recover financially if the caps are placed.
Representative Sherman Mack is battling to become the next House speaker in the state of Louisiana, and he contended that this law would become “the biggest copic you’re going to hear most about in this next legislative session. We have to let the middle class and the public know that we are attempting as the leaders of this state to help them with these high insurance rates.”
But everyone acknowledges that the state needs to make some changes to address the rising premiums, which are currently around an average $2,200 annual rate, second-highest in the nation.
Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards said, “I know that there is some movement, some compromise that’s possible.” But he also acknowledged that he doesn’t plan on “creating any red lines” as far as damages limitations are concerned.
Republican Senator Rick Ward doesn’t necessarily agree that new legislation would result in lower rates. “We can certainly take a look at how we differ from other states, but the problem there is I think a lot of times … the reason the general public doesn’t trust us is because we go out and sell something, and then we pass what we sell and then it never materializes.”
He continued, “So, if we all go run around the state and tell everybody that we’re going to pass this and you’re going to see your insurance rates reduced, what happens in two years whenever we passed it and their rates don’t reduce?”