Louisiana tort reform falls flat, thanks to the governor’s decisive action

Insurance companies have had their hopes for sweeping tort reform in Louisiana dashed with a stroke of a pen. Governor John Edwards vetoed a number of bills that were designed to eliminate what some lawmakers (and the insurance companies, naturally) called “frivolous” lawsuits by car accident victims.

Among other things, the bills would have made it impossible for a third-party claimant to sue an insurance company in most situations and would have lowered the jury threshold on claims, making it harder (and costlier) for some victims to seek redress. The bills would have also limited how much victims could receive in compensation, and limited how personal injury attorneys advertise their services.

Supposedly, these changes would have reduced auto insurance rates by at least 10%. Given that Louisiana has the second-highest insurance rates in the country, that sounds fairly attractive and like a potential boon to consumers.

Except, as the governor rightly noted, there was no real guarantee that insurance rates would go down. No one from the insurance companies who pushed for the bill would testify that these measures would lower rates and the governor stated that the legislation was “neither a compromise nor is it a mandate to decrease rates.” Opponents said that the legislation would have basically left injury victims at the mercy of the insurance company involved in their claim, rather than giving them any measure of justice.

Car accident victims have enough to handle. They don’t need tort reform to make their lives more difficult. If you’ve been injured in a wreck due to another party’s negligence, find out more about your legal rights.