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WAJ Pro-Consumer Agenda Items Included in Governor Doyle’s Budget
Governor Doyle released his proposed state budget on February 17th and it contained some important items for auto insurance consumers.

First, a series of provisions, referred to as “Truth in Auto Insurance,” will roll back the changes the insurance industry lobbied for and the Legislature adopted in 1995 that placed insurance industry profits over the needs of the consumer.  The provisions would prohibit anti-stacking and reducing clauses, create a common definition for UIM coverage, increase minimum liability coverage from $25,000/$50,000/$10,000 to $100,000/$300,000/$25,000, eliminate the requirement that a vehicle be “hit” by an unidentified driver to be considered an “uninsured motorist and requires insurance companies to offer UM/UIM coverage for umbrella or excess liability policies and defines umbrella or excess liability policies.  For a fact sheet on the proposal, go to Truth in Auto Insurance Summary.

The budget bill also includes changes to Wis. Stat. § 895.045.  First, joint and several liability is restored to its pre-1995 form.  Second, the plaintiff would be allowed to recover damages against all defendants so long as the plaintiff’s negligence does not exceed the combined negligence of all the parties.  Finally, Wis. Stat. § 805.13 (4) is amended, which would allow jury instructions to include an explanation of the effect on awards and liabilities of the percentage of negligence found by the jury to be attributable to each party. Check out the fact sheet on joint and several liability. 

WAJ needs your help to win these battles
WAJ leadership and our lobbyist have worked hard to educate lawmakers about the need for this change. Already we have seen that the insurance industry will not let these items come to pass without a fight.  They have activated their 28,000 employees in Wisconsin to fight the measures.

That is why we need each of you to get involved by contacting members of the legislature at key points as the debate advances.  In this early stage the budget will be discussed and debated by the 16-member Joint Committee on Finance.  Committee hearings will begin in late March.

We need the members of this important committee to hear from you now.  Please call the members of the committee and ask them to “support the pro-consumer Truth in Auto Insurance and joint and several liability provision in the Governor’s budget proposal.”  For a list of members and contact information click here.

Also write and call your own legislators.  If you don’t know who your legislator is, you can find them and their email address or phone number here.
Tell them how important these two provisions are to consumers.  Make sure to inform legislators of how your clients are negatively impacted because of the current law.   Also, have your clients who have been affected by the current law write to legislators as well.  The stories will help put a human face on why this legislation is needed.

Let us know your stories as well.  If you have clients or former clients whose stories can help explain to the press and public why these changes are needed, the WAJ office would like to know about them.  The media love to cover stories featuring real people.  We know members have probably had cases affected by the 1995 law, so we would like to hear about them.

Spring Seminar
Please join us at the WAJ Spring Seminar on Friday, March 20, 2009.  Once again we will be at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Green Bay.  Sylvius von Saucken from Garretson Firm Resolution Group will be speaking on ERISA liens.  There will also be an interactive panel discussion with a Chiropractor and Physical Medicine/Rehabilitation Specialist regarding their perspectives on depositions. Other topics include:  Passenger Negligence, Medicare Set-Aside Agreements, Protective Orders, Bifurcation and Ethics.  The Paralegal program features topics on jury selection and e-discovery.  For more information, click here and register online. The WAJ Women’s Caucus will be meeting over lunch and Judge Sue Bischel will be speaking to the group.  Register online by clicking here for more info.

2009 Supreme Court race around the corner. With the April Election coming up fast make sure you take the time to support your choice in this critical race. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson is a friend of many of our members and was the keynote speaker at our December annual meeting in Milwaukee. There is still plenty of time to donate to campaigns, write letters to the editors of local papers and encourage friends, family and clients to support pro civil justice candidates. WAJ members can once again order postcards to send to friends and clients, contact the WAJ office to order them, info@wisjustice.org.

Join the Justice Fund.
WAJ’s conduit for political giving made a real difference in the elections this fall! Through your participation we were able to meet our goals and helped elect a progressive and pro-civil justice majority in both houses of the legislature. In the next year we will be looking to double the participation, so if you have not committed for 2009 now is the time to do so.  If you have been sitting on the sidelines it’s time to get in the game!

Justice Fund


Wisconsin Association for Justice
44 East Mifflin Street, Suite 402, Madison, WI 53703
tel: (608) 257-5741 • fax: (608) 255-9285
email: info@wisjustice.org


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