New Louisiana Tort Reform Laws May Limit Future Car Accident Claims
A new law has gone into effect that limits the amount of compensation available to those injured in Louisiana traffic accidents. The Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020 aims to reduce the amount of money plaintiffs can receive from insurance companies in lawsuits.
The money these companies save in litigation should, at least theoretically, also result in lower car insurance premiums for Louisiana motorists. According to a study commissioned by Insure.com, Louisiana has the second-highest average car insurance premiums in the United States, clocking in at $2,389 per year.
But while proponents of the new tort reform law say it will ultimately benefit motorists, opponents say there’s no guarantee that insurance companies will pass the savings on to their customers. Learn everything you need to know about 2021 Louisiana tort reform laws with this guide from the New Orleans car accident lawyers at Mike Brander Injury Attorneys.
What Are the New Louisiana Car Accident Laws?
The Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020 has several major provisions regarding lawsuits and settlements following a car accident.
Lowering the Jury Trial Threshold
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. But in some cases, when insurance companies or other responsible parties refuse to fairly compensate an injury victim, the case may go to trial.
Previously, only parties seeking more than $50,000 in damages had the right to a jury trial. That amount is now lowered to $10,000. Given that the minimum amount of liability insurance in the state of Louisiana is $15,000 per person ($30,000 per accident), this means many more auto accident cases could be presented before a jury beginning in 2021.
Those who petition for a jury trial with purported damages of between $10,000 and $50,000 will also now be responsible for paying a $5,000 cash deposit within 60 days of filing their petition (as opposed to the previous rule, in which plaintiffs had 60 or 30 days before trial to post this bond.)
Understating Insurance Companies
The Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020 is also changing the way car insurance companies are identified in civil cases. Under the new Louisiana car accident laws, while the fact that an insurance policy exists can be known to the jury, the policy limits of the defendant’s insurance will not be made known. The name of the insurer will also be withheld from the jury.
Lawmakers and insurers who supported the bill’s passage argue that jurors are more likely to award higher settlements when they know an insurance company will be on the hook for damages versus an individual.
Limiting Recoverable Medical Expenses
In addition, the new Louisiana car accident laws also put limits on the amount of medical expenses a plaintiff can sue for. Instead of customary calculated medical expenses, those pursuing a personal injury case will be entitled only to the actual amount paid by their insurance provider (not the billed amount) and any out-of-pocket cost sharing amounts.
However, the court can still award the plaintiff 40% of the difference between the billed amount of their medical expenses and amounts actually paid based on the “cost of procurement”—i.e., contracted attorney fees and paid health insurance premiums.
Including Seat Belt Use as Evidence
In the past, whether or not an injured plaintiff was wearing a seat belt at the time of a car accident was not allowed into evidence. As a part of Louisiana tort reform, this information will now be admissible as evidence. This could negatively impact car accident victims’ rights to damages even if they played no role in causing the accident itself.
I Was Injured Before 2021. How Will the New Laws Affect Me?
If you or a loved one was injured in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident prior to January 1, 2021 (when the new Louisiana car accident laws went into effect), your personal injury case will not be subject to these new restrictions.
However, whether your accident occurred in 2020 or more recently, keep in mind Louisiana’s one-year statute of limitations on car accident lawsuits and seek professional legal counsel as soon as possible after an accident.
Contact a Louisiana Car Accident Attorney Today
Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys stands committed to upholding the rights of injured clients and obtaining the maximum settlement as allowed by the law on behalf of injured persons. You deserve to be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering after being in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
Don’t try to take on the insurance companies on your own and risk an unfair settlement or denied claim. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free, no obligation consultation regarding your claim. Representatives are standing by at the numbers below to schedule your complimentary case review. Have questions? Get in touch with a LiveChat agent right now. You can also request your free consultation by filling out this simple form.
The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.