Monday, the Louisiana Senate passed SB 418 by Senator Kirk Talbot on a vote of 29-8.
Sen. Kirk Talbot (R-River Ridge), SB 418 will bring Louisiana’s legal system in line with other states in exchange for a mandatory auto insurance rate reduction. The bill will:
Lower 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. The end result is a trend of cases with higher value, but low enough to avoid a jury in the hopes of landing the right judge. Maryland has the next highest threshold at $15,000 and 32 states have no jury trial threshold.
End 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.
Remove the direct action statute.
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 encourages a jury’s tendency to award 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.
Extend the prescriptions for tort actions from 1 year to 2 years for motor vehicle accidents only.
A compromise providing the other elements of the bill remain in place.
Eliminate the seat belt gag order.
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.
Require a mandatory 10% rate reduction for personal auto insurance.
The bill also establishes a mandatory review of commercial auto insurance to lower rates when actuarially justified. This bill will help rebuild competition in our markets, providing real relief for Louisiana ratepayers.
You can track the Bill in the Senate here https://legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?s=20RS&b=SB418&sbi=y
You can read SB418 here: