Odd, isnt it?
The very people who fought against lawsuit reform in Texas every inch of the way-- who claimed that the lawsuit lottery wasnt costing anyone--now claim changes in our legal climate should have produced even greater savings for consumers.
First, self-styled legal activists claimed Texas didnt need to stop lawsuit abuse because--in their mind--the costs to consumers didnt exist. The Legislature, the Governor and most Texans disagreed. A package of lawsuit reforms were enacted by a near unanimous vote. Then, after an astounding $3 billion in savings is produced, these consumer critics come hat-in-hand clamoring for more. Since when has $3 billion become chump change? Because, roughly, $3 billion is the savings drivers, doctors and businesses have received since a slew of lawsuit reforms were passed in Texas in 1995.
Those who complain that government never works should look again at Texas tort reform.
Today, most Houston drivers are paying 18% to 36% less for full coverage auto insurance than they were four years ago. Basic auto liability rates have been cut even deeper. Outside of Texas, there is probably not another county in the nation that could make the same claim.
Two years ago, our household saved $669 on our car insurance and received a dividend check of $214 on top of that. Thats right, my insurance company paid me. And when the policy was renewed I got another rate cut. Why? Because changes in our legal climate and changes in our civil justice laws produced substantial savings.
Our states efforts to rein in lawsuit abuse have benefited Texans from all walks of life. Excessive and abusive lawsuits have been curbed, outrageous awards are fewer, and our state is beginning to shed its lawsuit happy image. This has been good for every Texan with the exception of personal injury trial lawyers, who with their like-minded groups now complain the loudest.
Today, most Houston drivers are paying 18% to 36% less for full coverage auto insurance than they were four years ago.
For years we were Americas lawsuit abuse poster state. But spurred by fear and frustration, consumers, small business operators and retirees fought back by launching the anti-lawsuit abuse movement. So it was with local support--and encouragement--that our Legislature enacted a comprehensive package of lawsuit reforms in 1995. This was bipartisan legislation enacted after exhaustive public debate and a near unanimous vote by both the Texas House and Senate. In fact, Democrats presided over both the House and Senate when these reforms were passed.
Thanks to these reforms and to changes in public attitudes about lawsuit abuse, the Texas legal system has been made fairer. Consequently, business and consumers are paying less for their insurance.
In Texas, lawsuit reform and insurance rate cuts have been directly linked by legislative edict. Policyholders share in the cost savings of lawsuit reform as quickly as those savings occur. Many doctors have experienced double-digit decreases in their medical liability rates. By combining the purchase of policies, businesses have seen liability rate cuts of 25 percent or more. Everyone has gotten a piece of the lawsuit reform savings--except the personal injury trial lawyers.
Few states cut auto insurance rates in any given year. Almost none cut rates in back to back years. Yet in Texas, liability rates have been cut five successive years.
It is hardly coincidental that with the adoption of more sensible laws Texas led the nation in job growth during the 1990s.
The lawsuit reforms of 1995 are doing exactly what they were intended to do: make the Texas legal system fairer, encourage job growth and reduce liability costs to consumers. It is hardly coincidental that with the adoption of more sensible laws Texas led the nation in job growth during the 1990s.
No one is escaping accountability. In Texas, there is no dollar cap that protects drunk drivers, negligent nursing homes or environmental polluters. Weve simply followed the lead of other states, curbed some of the more obvious abuses and let policyholders keep the savings.
Those who complain that government never works should look again at Texas tort reform, the money it has put into the pockets of Texas consumers and the integrity it has returned to the law, noted former State Rep. Mark Stiles, a Democrat who authored the rate rollback provision.
Presumably, those who disregard the historic Texas turnaround have a special reason for doing so. Certain so-called consumer groups consistently downplay the benefits of lawsuit reform to further the interests of the trial lawyers.