For Louisiana’s families, the every-six-months burden of car insurance renewal is a regular exercise in sticker shock. For many of the state’s residents, it’s a big drag on the household budget.
To their credit, Louisiana lawmakers seem to be taking notice. They’re set to deliberate this week on legislation to limit expensive litigation from car accidents, one factor in driving up rates.
House Bill 372, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Kirk Talbot of River Ridge, would reduce the threshold for a jury trial in auto crash lawsuits from $50,000 to $5,000. Today, if the amount sought by a plaintiff is less than $50,000 — a threshold that's 28 times the national average — then a judge can decide the case. Louisiana law is obviously far out of line with most other states, and litigation over car wrecks has become a bread-and-butter industry for trial lawyers. HB 372 won’t completely solve the problem of expensive car insurance, but it can be part of the solution.
It's a challenge that the Legislature can and should address this year. When you’re No. 2 in car insurance rates in the nation, and few households can do without at least one car if not two, Louisiana families need some relief.
HB 372 passed the House 69-30 and is in the Senate’s Judiciary A committee today. Even if some compromise is necessary to pass a bill this year, this is the vehicle to do so. We urge senators to make a difference.