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What is going on with bill to limit accident victims’ recoveries?

Ask Louisiana State Senator Kirk Talbot (R-District 10) what exactly is driving confusion regarding a recently authored bill on so-called tort reform he is sponsoring. Many other people don’t seem to know.

That legislation – Senate Bill 418, formally entitled the Omnibus Premium Reduction act of 2020 – is a would-be law heavily favored by Louisiana businesses and insurance companies.

Its intent: narrowing the opportunity for motor vehicle accident victims to bring/prevail in injury lawsuits and damping down damage awards.

Personal injury attorneys seeking to obtain meaningful recoveries that will enable their clients to secure post-accident justice are obviously opposed.

So too are victim advocacy groups and organizations opposed to insurers bent on increasing premiums while simultaneously minimizing claim awards. They have duly noted that SB418’s strong pro-insurer thrust does not promote a drop in premiums for vehicle owners to compensate for industry gains.

Notwithstanding that, though, the status of the legislation is currently up in the proverbial air. Reportedly, notes one article discussing SB418, a hurried push to finalize the bill spawned language errors that could result in damage awards “that end up being more lucrative to those filing lawsuits.”

That potential downside for a tort-reform vehicle is understandably unpalatable for adherents, who now vow some material language adjustments. Talbot says that fixing the bill will be an “easy tweak,” and he notes the time now available for modification afforded by a 30-day special legislative session.

Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards could veto the bill. That action would subsequently require a two-thirds override in both the Louisiana House and Senate, which is an uncertain outcome.

We will keep readers timely informed of any material developments concerning SB418.

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