Tort Reform

State liability for accidents on highways and the need for tort reform greatly affects the costs of Michigan roads. In the 1993-1994 fiscal year Michigan paid out $12.4 million in tort litigation claims and between 1981 and 1994 these claims totaled $191.9 million. Tort reforms must be addressed as part and parcel of any proposal for increased gas taxes. Reforms should address increased governmental immunity, limitations on joint and several liability, and a cap on non-economic damage awards. While true negligence by the state should result in liability, the current system encourages frivolous claims and payments. Reforms should save the state an estimated $4.9 million per year, with the average costs over the last 13 years reduced by one-third. This would result in savings of 0.1 cents per gallon.