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Opinion: This bill about litigation will have unintended consequences
09282017 STATE CAPITOL
Georgia's state Capitol in Atlanta. - photo by Associated Press

Let me state up front that I am a trial lawyer. I represent the victims and families of those injured by the negligence and actions of another. I am not a friend to insurance companies who do not fulfill their obligations to protect their insureds and help hurting people. I am friends, however, with proponents, sponsors and supporters of Georgia Senate Bill 415

I am supremely confident they've been grossly misled and do not realize the ramifications of the bill they are supporting.

From its inception — following the work of a wholly one-sided "study" committee to its poor drafting to its assignment to the Senate Insurance Committee (a committee with no lawyers to determine how the law would actually affect Georgians) to the manner in which many sponsors have outright refused to address the concerns voiced by those who actually represent the folks SB 415 will effect — the entire process has been tainted. As my grandfather used to say, "it just doesn't pass the smell test."

Georgia's SB 415 addresses approximately 15 separate areas of the law. It was drafted exclusively by those who represent insurance companies or have been heavily influenced by insurance companies. Trial lawyers were prohibited from participating in the drafting process and have been excluded from discussions as to what the results of the bill will be for Georgians if it is passed into law. Although I cannot address each and every problem with SB 415 and how it will hurt Georgians here, I can state with certainty some conclusions: this bill will harm retired veterans, the elderly and the disabled and likely small businesses; it will likely result in more lawsuits, not less; and the beneficiaries of the proposed changes to our current law are exclusively insurance companies and those who are paid to represent them. Frankly, I do not think the folks who support (or have sponsored) this bill understand the extent of the harmful effects it will have on Georgians if signed into law.

In response to my concerns, many supporters and proponents have invited me to discuss compromises with them. I welcome compromise and appreciate their efforts. However, the legislators pushing this bill to a floor vote have expressed no such invitations and do not appear to be interested in hearing any dissent. Candidly, they do not appear to care how this bill will hurt Georgians, retired veterans, the elderly and disabled and the average citizen. I can only conclude their desires are not focused on making life better for all Georgians. Instead, the focus is exclusively insurance companies who continue to rake in record profits while wrongfully and dishonorably blaming trial lawyers for increased premiums. Georgia Senate Bill 415 should be resoundingly defeated, and I urge all readers to contact their Georgia state senator instructing them to vote "no" to this horrific bill, Senate Bill 415. I am open to discuss this bill with anyone. I can be reached at Lazenby Law Group, 380 Green St. NE, Gainesville, Ga.

Shane Lazenby

Gainesville

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