How Texas Tort Reform Helps Drunk Drivers and Hurts Families

Written by greg on March 3, 2012

Several years ago, Texans were sold on the concept of “tort reform” and the politicians and insurance lobby pushing such concept made many promises.   Few, if any, of the promises have proven true. The painful reality is that Texas tort reform has benefited wrongdoers such as drunk drivers while it has clearly hurt Texas families.

One of the promises made by politicians or others sponsored by insurance interests was that our insurance rates (being some of the highest in the country) would drop for our car insurance. Unfortunately, Texas continues to have some the highest car insurance rates in the country and our rates have continued to rise in double-digit fashion. With estimates at 38 cents paid out on the premium dollar for claims, it does not take much imagination to see where the money is going–in the pockets of insurance company.

Texans are required by law to carry auto insurance if they drive their car in Texas. Car insurance is mandatory in Texas. The failure to regulate the claims handling practices of insurers or the amount they actually pay out in claims while at the same time requiring families to pay for car insurance is one of the biggest injustices of our time. Texas families, after “tort reform” continues to be “profit centers” for insurance companies for many years now.

Worse, is that Texas has passed a provision with “tort reform” dealing with “paid or incurred” medical bills which in effect penalizes responsible Texas families who pay for their own health insurance and benefits drunk drivers and wrongdoers at the expense of the Texas family.

In effect, the drunk driver gets the benefit of a Texas family paying for their health insurance premiums and the Texas family who has been harmed by the drunk driver is not compensated for their responsibility and in fact, is penalized and hurt by being responsible and paying for their families health insurance. The drunk driver gets the benefit of a family paying for health insurance but he does not have to reimburse the family for the premiums paid to have such coverage. Very hard to believe that leaders in Texas would do that to Texas families, but they have.

Not only has the “paid or incurred” provisions been a huge injustice to Texas families but the provisions have run up the cost to the Texas family who has been injured because it costs more now to document their medical expenses in a claim or lawsuit to obtain civil justice. In effect, drunk drivers and wrongdoers get the benefit of the family being responsible and the Texas family gets the shaft.

Other states that have considered such punitive provisions have rejected them as being totally unfair to families and a windfall to insurance companies. Many other states insurance regulators set a minimum payout for claims of policy dollars collected at 68 cents per dollar. As you may know, Texas has not done that and Texas families are being used as the piggy bank of the insurance companies reaping huge profits in Texas.

The next time you read an article written by a “tort reform” advocate (there is a very good chance they are connected directly or indirectly to the insurance lobby), realize that the truth of the matter is that Texas families are being penalized, wrongdoers are let off the hook and insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank. In short, Texas tort reform has proven a disaster for Texas families.

Greg Baumgartner is a personal injury attorney and the founder of the Baumgartner law firm, which is dedicated to helping personal injury victims seek civil justice. If you would like to speak with a injury attorney call the Baumgartner firm.

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