Press Release

Trucking Industry Applauds Lawsuit Abuse Reform Enacted in West Virginia

Apr 02, 2024

Washington — Today, the trucking industry praised the West Virginia Legislature and Governor Jim Justice for enacting a commonsense reform to the state’s civil litigation system.  S.B.583 previously passed the West Virginia Senate by a vote of 30-1 and the House of Delegates by a vote of 81-15, and it was signed into law by the governor.
The law will cap non-economic damage awards at $5 million.  Capping subjective, nonmonetary losses is critical to ensuring fairness and balance in civil litigation and will deter abusive and frivolous lawsuits that have perverted the system into a profit center for the plaintiffs’ bar.  
“Trucking is essential to our economy, delivering the goods Americans need every day and supporting quality jobs.  When the plaintiffs’ bar perverts civil litigation into a casino game of ‘jackpot justice,’ the costs are borne by everyone—not just trucking companies, but consumers too in the form of higher insurance rates and higher prices for everyday goods,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “We commend West Virginia legislators and Governor Justice for doing the right thing and protecting hardworking professional truck drivers and the viability of our nation's supply chain.  This reasonable reform ensures justice and fairness drive accident litigation outcomes, not profits.”
“I am thrilled to see the passing of SB 583, which caps non-economic damage awards at $5 million. Capping subjective, nonmonetary losses is crucial to maintaining fairness and balance in civil litigation,” said West Virginia Trucking Association President Traci Nelson.  “This measure will deter abusive and frivolous lawsuits, which have unfortunately turned our legal system into a profit center for the plaintiffs’ bar. West Virginia’s trucking industry is vital to our state, providing essential services to communities and supporting middle-class jobs. However, rampant lawsuit abuse has hindered our ability to operate safely and efficiently. This is not just a victory for the trucking industry; it's a win for consumers, businesses and everyone in West Virginia. With approximately 33,890 West Virginians employed in the trucking industry and 84 percent of our communities relying solely on trucks for goods transportation, this legislation is critical for our state’s economic well-being.”
The enacted legislation  builds on tort reform West Virginia previously implemented in 2021, which amended the “seatbelt gag rule” to make evidence of a litigant’s non-usage of a safety belt admissible in court in most cases.  This measure increases transparency and ensures jurors have complete information when rendering a fair and just verdict.  
The trucking industry is a key provider of middle-class jobs in West Virginia, employing approximately 33,890 people throughout the state. Nearly 84 percent of West Virginia communities rely exclusively on trucks to receive their goods.