Senate Bill 382, which is sponsored by state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, is aimed at doing away with the “seat belt gag law” during civil trials. This law was passed in the 1980s to prevent a jury from knowing whether someone hurt in an auto accident was wearing a seat belt. The reasoning behind this law was that an injured person shouldn’t be penalized when he or she sustained injuries through no fault of their own.
Insurance companies are alluding that if this law passes then auto insurance premiums will go down. Don’t be fooled. Passing this law will not lower auto insurance premiums. This is just another unsavory attempt by insurance companies to reduce the amount they pay to an injured motorist. It is a way in which they can point the finger at the injured party of a motor vehicle accident and try to limit the amount they pay by placing blame on the injured party. It is immoral to blame a motorist, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, for any injuries he or she sustained through no fault of their own. The injured motorist is a victim and nowhere else in society do we blame the victim for injuries sustained through the fault of someone else. So why should we allow insurance companies to place blame on motorists who are involved in an accident just because they had the misfortune of getting injured due to someone hitting them while they weren’t wearing a seatbelt? Especially when there is no way of determining whether wearing a seat belt would have altered the outcome anyway. This scenario whereby the insurance company would argue who was at fault for what damages would be based on pure speculation. Furthermore, it is just morally wrong to place blame on the victim of a motor vehicle accident. Being injured and sometimes having your life altered forever is bad enough. Do we really want insurance companies pointing the finger at the victim and trying to place blame on him? That’s pouring salt on the wound.
This all boils down to insurance companies trying to maximize profits. Insurance companies are in the business to make money and they will nickel and dime you because in the long run this practice will save them millions. Insurance companies have no problems with collecting your high premiums every month. But for some reason they take issue when it comes time for them to fulfill their obligation. Insurance companies will fight like hell to avoid paying the claim all together. When that doesn’t work, they will undervalue your claim and try to pay you pennies on the dollar. Thus, the injured motorist has to fight very hard in order to be compensated a fair amount for the injuries he or she sustained.
Louisiana motorists are smarter than this. Don’t fall for this gimmick being pushed on our legislators by big insurance companies. Passing this bill will not make insurance premiums go down. Passing this bill will only drive up insurance companies profits at the expense of Louisiana’s injured motorists.