Politics & Policy

Pa. Dems to Give Big Kiss to Trial Lawyers

The PA Commercial Action Network is calling for Pennsylvanians to oppose proposed legislation that would allow attorneys greater latitude to argue for increased damages in cases of automobile accidents. 

PaCAN characterizes this legislation, which is moving through the state legislature, as a threat to affordable insurance rates.

In a year when economic concerns are dominating in the minds of voters, this could impact the gubernatorial conversation as Tom Corbett seeks to consolidate his lead over Democrat Dan Onorato.

Nathan Benefield, director of policy research for the Harrisburg-based Commonwealth Foundation, spoke with Battle ‘10 about the legislation, saying, “With a short time left on the legislative calendar — during a recession, facing a state fiscal crisis, and with major issues like transportation and pensions to address — lawmakers’ focusing on legislation like this shows the political power of trial lawyers.”

“It is one more opportunity,” said Benefield, “for Gov. Rendell to reward some of his special interest allies before leaving office.” 

Gene Barr, vice president for government and public affairs at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, was similarly downbeat. “Pennsylvania has one of the worst legal climates in the United States. We’re at the bottom or near the bottom, and headed in the wrong direction.”

“If this were to pass, there would be an immediate and adverse impact on insurance prices,” Barr told Battle ‘10. “Courts are likely to decide that [increased liability] couldn’t merely apply only to automobile damages, but across the board, including general liability.”

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