Liability reform may be attainable in 2005; however, experts say that any new legislation may cap payouts by corporations, rather than do anything to protect affluent individuals and small businesses.
"People become liability targets once they're worth half a million or more," said Brill of Raymond James. "The average American lives hand to mouth, and if they see someone who isn't like that they want to sue. With affluent clients, liability insurance is one of the first things I ask them about."
The insurance industry has been lobbying Congress for the liability caps, and will likely be the first to benefit from any reforms passed, according to Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy.
If these lobbyists have their way, "it will burden taxpayers more. People who are hurt will have to turn to state aid and government disability," she said. "Tort reform doesn't get rid of the wrongdoing; it just transfers the costs."
Ironically, tort reform doesn't appear likely to impact insurance sales. Even premiums may remain the same, since the rates are driven by the performance of the insurers' investments, added Doroshow.
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