Last Friday, we left you with a post about Senate Bill 107, which seeks to let DUI crash victims and their families sue for unlimited amounts in non-economic damages. The bill is presented as a way to combat drunk driving and punish DUI offenders.
As proposed, however, a critic from the Colorado Civil Justice League Legal Advisory Board argues that removing the cap on non-economic damages would do more to compensate plaintiffs and punish businesses.
Like we mentioned in a February post about SB 107, many Colorado DUI defendants already have a hard time paying the damages that they are ordered to pay. Requiring even more from them wouldn't mean that they magically are able to pay victims more money.
That critic suggests that the extra amount in damages would need to come from somewhere else. According to the critic, plaintiffs would, therefore, target car manufacturers, claiming that they create unsafe vehicles. Or, they would target DUI defendants' employers, if the accident occurred while the driver was on the clock.
He also suspects that insurers will wind up having to pay for the excessive amount in non-economic damages. That means that insurance rates will go up, and everyone in the community, people completely unrelated to DUI cases, will pay more for insurance.
As you can see, the critic doesn't see how the drunk driver will be punished further through unlimited non-economic damages, which is the stated goal of SB 107. He suggests that if legislators' true goal is to punish drunk drivers and deter drunk driving, they should come up with a new plan. This is an example of how strong emotions, while understandable, can lead to the creation of illogical legislation.
The Denver Post: "Guest Commentary: DUI bill threatens business," Evan Stephenson, 26 Feb. 2011