Catherine Smith, ‘Buckle Up: The Long, Winding Road to Improved Auto Insurance Premiums in Louisiana’

ABSTRACT
Currently, the State of Louisiana has the second most expensive auto insurance in the nation. Louisiana ranks first in an even more devastating automobile insurance statistic, unaffordability. An already poor state simply cannot afford the repercussions of inaction. The higher auto insurance premiums rise, the more Louisiana citizens will forgo insurance coverage, resulting in loss of compensation for victims of automobile accidents and loss of protection for tortfeasors. Many peg the Louisiana tort system as a key factor in the automobile insurance crisis and call for tort reform. This Article closely examines the various legislative efforts of Louisiana tort reform, specifically, proposed amendments to Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 32:295. Subsection E, which currently prohibits the admission of evidence that the plaintiff was not wearing a seat belt for purposes of comparative fault and reduction of damages. Several legislators have argued reducing insurance payouts in Louisiana will in turn reduce cost shifting to Louisiana consumers.

This Article reviews various Louisiana House and Senate Bills proposed over the last two decades, incorporates interviews with legislators who presented those bills, and distinguishes Louisiana law with the laws of states with the highest and lowest insurance cost, Michigan and Maine respectively. In addition, this Article examines the pros and cons of various proposed alternative tort reform solutions aimed at reducing automobile insurance costs.

The author concludes that because the law has sat idle for nearly two decades, it is unknown whether seat-belt evidence admissibility will reduce automobile insurance costs. Tangible data simply does not exist. The author calls for further review of current and proposed Louisiana law and rapid action so that Louisiana citizens do not continue to endure such costly premiums.

Smith, Catherine, Buckle Up: The Long, Winding Road to Improved Auto Insurance Premiums in Louisiana (March 14, 2020). Southern University Law Review, 2020.

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