By: David Yates
AUSTIN – The Texas Senate has tentatively approved House Bill 1774, commonly referred to as the hailstorm lawsuit abuse bill.
For the past several years, many of the state’s tort reform groups, such as Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse, have strongly been advocating a legislative fix to the surge in weather-related lawsuits against insurance companies that are filed in mass after every major storm.
“Across our state, we’ve seen an increasing number of hail storm lawsuits from a small number of personal injury lawyers who appear to be aggressively recruiting homeowners to serve as plaintiffs and ensnaring innocent bystanders in these suits,” said Jennifer Harris, TALA’s executive director.
“We’re confident that HB 1774 will help to rein in these costly, anti-consumer, storm-chasing lawsuits, and we’re hoping Governor Abbott signs this critical piece of reform into law.”
Earlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott called for legislation to end hailstorm lawsuit abuse.
Texas Watch, a self-proclaimed consumer protection group supported by trial lawyers, argues the legislation slashes the penalty for property insurers that wrongfully delay weather-related claims, forces many cases into federal court, and adds cost and uncertainty for property owners who attempt to legally challenge insurers' decisions.
"Under this new law, many insurance companies will pay property owners as little as late as possible, said TW Executive Director Ware Wendell. “Texans can expect only more delays and denials from the for-profit insurance industry. The harmful effect of this legislation for homeowners, businesses, churches, and schools will be felt all across our state."