State Trial Lawyers Applaud Bills Protecting Rights of Pennsylvania Consumers

PHILADELPHIA, May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association (PaTLA) today welcomed legislation recently introduced in the state legislature: a Senate bill that levels the playing field for victims of bad faith on the part of insurance companies and a House bill designed to help consumers make more informed choices when purchasing automobile insurance.

Senate Bill 745 introduced by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf would allow juries to determine fault and award damages in bad faith insurance cases. Currently in Pennsylvania, only a judge can decide bad faith, while in federal court juries make the decision in such cases. “If a jury is competent enough to decide cases involving negligence or criminal conduct-and it is–we should have confidence in them to make a determination of whether an insurance company was wrong in denying or stonewalling a claim,” said Ruben Honik, President of PaTLA. “The founding fathers knew the jury system would work 200 years ago and it works today.”

An insurance company commits bad faith by intentionally denying payment of lawful claims to its customers, or by delaying the payment for a very long time. Although bad faith can occur in all kinds of claims, it is most common in auto insurance cases, Honik said. “We have seen that insurance companies use this standard practice of delay and deny to increase their profits.”

The bill introduced by Rep. John J. Taylor (R-Phila.) would require insurers to use plain language to set out policy rights, requiring them to replace “full tort” and “limited tort” with “full right to sue” and “limited right to sue” in policies.

Of the bill, Honik said: “Pennsylvanians deserve to have their rights under their auto insurance policies explained in easy-to-understand language. Lawyers learn the word ‘torts’ in law school but who else really knows what that means?” Insurance companies should be compelled to speak to us in plain English and consumers shouldn’t be expected to hire lawyers to understand insurance policies they sign up for.”

PaTLA is an organization of more than 3,000 Pennsylvania attorneys with the mission to uphold and defend the civil justice system in Pennsylvania, keeping courthouse doors open and preserving the constitutional right to a trial by jury.

Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association

CONTACT: Craig Giangiulio of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association,+1-215-546-6451 x.106; mobile +1-856-630-5537, craig@patla.org

Web site: http://www.patla.org/