When political courage wanes and politicians search for a quick fix to age-old problems, they often seek out a scapegoat to blame. “Passing the buck” on someone else is standard operating procedure in the halls of congress as well as the state legislature in Baton Rouge.
The legal profession has always been an easy mark for the culpability. Many people agree with Shakespeare when he said, “the first thing you do is to kill all the lawyers.” Now barristers in the Bayou State have become the whipping boys for insurance officials and a few legislators, in efforts to divert attention from their own ineptitude of failing to address the real causes for high insurance rates in Louisiana.
Of course there is a great need to address the high cost of auto rates. This week, insurance officials announced that, voila–they had found the quick fix that will cause the cost of insurance for Louisiana drivers to plummet. Simply put, blame it on the lawyers. That’s right. Greedy lawyers are working in concert with cooperating judges to see that plaintiffs who are injured in auto accidents get big verdicts.
In Louisiana, any lawsuit with an award that can exceed $50,000 requires a jury trial, unless both sides agree otherwise. A few legislators and insurance officials, who more often than not dance to the tune of the insurance industry, want to allow jury trials in all litigated cases. The problem for those who are injured and decide to sue is that they face drastically higher costs, which have to be paid up front. Insurance company attorneys can beat them down with piles of motions all related to picking a jury.
Anderson Cooper on CNN has done a series of reports (all available on line) about how the nation’s top auto instance companies purposely drag out jury trials in an effort to wear down — financially and physically — those damaged in auto accidents. Many insurance departments turn the other way to this calculated effort by the insurance industry to lessen the amount they have to pay out.
In most states, insurance companies have to submit rate increases to the insurance department for prior approval. Bloomberg Business week reported recently that in California, auto insurance rates went down. Why? Consumer groups point to a voter proposition that required all rate increases to be approved by state regulators. So when insurance companies are allowed to raise their own rates without pre-approval, like in Louisiana, rates go up. When pre-approval is required, rates are much less than in the Bayou State.
In summary, legislators and insurance officials have turned a blind eye to a variety of problems in the auto insurance field that have caused Louisianans to pay the highest rates in the nation. Much easier to just blame the lawyers.
Worst drivers in the nation as reported by CarInsranceComparison.com? It’s the fault of the lawyers.
Rampant drunk driving where drivers have recently been cited for 7th and 8th DWIs? Those darn lawyers.
Louisiana has one of the nation’s highest number of uninsured drivers, many who are illegal immigrants. Laws on the books require that cars of uninsured drivers be impounded, laws that are rarely enforced. Heck, has to be the lawyers.
Forbes Magazine reports that Louisiana is a bottom level state for infrastructure — bad roads and poor safety. Got to be the fault of the lawyers.
Catch my drift? There are a barrel of reasons why Louisiana leads the nation in high auto insurance rates. It’s going to take a concentrated effort by legislators, the governor and insurance officials to put a comprehensive program in place that will cause rates to go down. Looking for quick fixes by blaming lawyers, judges or any one group is disingenuous and will do little to address what has become a financial crisis for many drivers in Louisiana. Much more needs to be done.
“Both terrorism and insurance sell fear — and business is business”
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.
Louisiana auto insurance, uninsured motorists, Louisiana lawsuits, Louisiana attorneys, jury trials