Indianapolis (April 1, 2005) – Georgia lawmakers should be commended for enacting major tort initiatives during their just-concluded 39-day legislative session, a representative of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) said today.
“The leadership shown in the General Assembly, and especially in the new, Republican-controlled House, appears to have made all the difference this year in getting some significant pieces of tort legislation enacted,” said NAMIC State Affairs Manager David Reddick. The Georgia General Assembly adjourned sine die on March 31.
Chief among the enacted laws is Senate Bill 3, which brings much-needed medical malpractice reforms to the state. The bill caps non-economic damages at $350,000 in individual suits and $1.05 million for multiple defendants. SB 3 also eliminated joint and several liability and created some venue reform.
“The American Medical Association had designated Georgia as a state in crisis, but this legislation should go a long way in bringing a sense of relief to both the medical and business communities,” said Reddick, who noted that Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the bill into law on February 16.
Other enacted tort-related bills include House Bill 416, which sets criteria for individuals to follow in filing legal actions seeking compensation over asbestos and silica claims; Senate Bill 19, which describes procedures, conditions and limitations on the certification of class actions, and Senate Bill 139, which provides for limited liability for certain liquefied petroleum gas providers.
Lawmakers also adopted a number of bills related to drivers’ licenses, including House Bill 501, which recreates the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety as the Department of Driver Services and transfers some of the current DMVS responsibilities to other state agencies.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the legislative session was the inability of the House to pass House Bill 683, a measure that would have created a flex-band rating system.
“This piece of legislation had some momentum coming out of the House Banking and Insurance Committee, but it appears to have hit the proverbial brick wall when it reached the House floor,” Reddick said. “While NAMIC is obviously disappointed in the outcome, the fact that legislators spent some time talking about this rating reform is a positive sign, and it is something the industry certainly can build on in the future.”
NAMIC has compiled a preliminary list of enacted Georgia legislation. The list can be found at NAMIC Online.