Wisconsin and West Virginia are divided on capping damages in CMV accident lawsuits

Wisconsin and West Virginia are divided on capping damages in CMV accident lawsuits

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has vetoed a bill that would set a $1 million cap on awards for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, in lawsuits stemming from commercial motor vehicle accidents.

Meanwhile, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill that caps non-economic damages in CMV-related accidents at $5 million.

The trucking industry has pushed to limit damages from truck accidents, citing tens of millions of dollars in judgments that drive up insurance rates or make it difficult to get auto carrier coverage at all.

In a statement issued Friday, Evers called the $1 million cap arbitrary and said, “The law should address the harm of the party, not oppress the injured party.” The bill also violates due process guarantees of the U.S. Constitution and the Wisconsin Constitution, and would conflict with existing state law, inviting “continued litigation,” he said.

Doug Morris, who works in government affairs for the Independent Owner-Operator Drivers Association, said Evers doesn’t realize the impact that serious damage awards will have on the trucking industry and on individual truck drivers.

“The governor has failed to understand the abuse of the system by trial attorneys and the harm done to the industry, especially pickup truck drivers, by allowing unlimited sentences,” Morris said in a statement to FreightWaves. “Trucker drivers are essential workers, not banks.”

The Wisconsin Senate passed the cap on non-monetary damages with support mostly from Republicans. The state Assembly, also controlled by Republicans, passed it by voice vote. Evers is a Democrat.

Testifying in January in support of the legislation, Republican state Rep. Rick Gundrum cited a study by the American Transportation Research Institute that found that judgments of more than $1 million in truck accident lawsuits rose on average from $2.3 million in 2010. to $22.3 million in 2018.

The Wisconsin Association for Justice, an advocacy organization, criticized the proposed cap on damages as “an attack on the ability of Wisconsin citizens to obtain justice after suffering catastrophic injuries and death on Wisconsin roads.”

In West Virginia, the American Trucking Associations on Tuesday applauded the Legislature’s overwhelming passage of a $5 million cap on non-economic damages related to CMV crashes and applauded the governor for signing the bill into law. The reform “ensures fairness and equity that drive accident litigation outcomes, not profits,” said Chris Speer, president and CEO of ATA.

Tracy Nelson, president of the West Virginia Trucking Association, also praised the measure.

“With approximately 33,890 West Virginians employed in the trucking industry and 84 percent of our communities relying solely on trucks to move freight, this legislation is critical to the economic well-being of our state,” Nelson said.

The state Senate passed the bill by a vote of 32-1. It was approved in the House of Delegates by a vote of 81 to 15. In 2021, West Virginia lawmakers enacted a reform that would make a plaintiff’s failure to use a seat belt admissible as evidence, a measure that Indiana approved in March of this year.

Related articles

A Georgia bill would limit truck accident lawsuits against insurance companies

Your seat belt can now be used as evidence in accident lawsuits in Indiana

NTSB chief says burning chemicals after Ohio derailment unnecessary

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *