Published: June 30, 2020
BATON ROUGE – Republican lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards agreed Tuesday to make changes to the state’s civil justice system that could limit damages in personal injury cases in an effort to lower car insurance rates.
The deal, on an issue that was a high priority for Republican leaders, came hours before the special legislative session ended Tuesday.
Both the House and the Senate quickly passed the bill, which was sponsored by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales. It was one of several “tort reform” bills written to replace a major Republican-backed bill by Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, that Edwards vetoed.
Edwards will sign the new bill into law, said Matthew Block, Edwards’ executive counsel.
Republican lawmakers, backed by business groups and the insurance industry, pushed hard for what they call tort reform, saying that Louisiana’s litigious climate is why drivers in the state pay the second highest auto insurance premiums in the country, after Michigan.
Democrats, backed by lawyers and judges, opposed the Republican measures to change the legal system, noting that some accident victims will receive less in damages and that there is no guarantee that the legal changes will lead to lower insurance premiums.
Democrats supported legislation that would have prohibited insurance companies from determining rates based on a drivers’ gender, age, credit score or marital status. These bills were killed in committee.
Schexnayder’s was one of several bills that sought to find a compromise between the two sides. It passed in the House 84-16 and in the Senate 35-4.
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