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Will damage cap rise with introduction of ‘Ashley’s Law’?

In previous posts we have written about the 2007 bus accident in Pennsbury, Pennsylvania, that resulted in one then student, losing a leg. She filed a personal injury lawsuit and was awarded $14 million by a jury in December 2011. The money was intended to help cover medical bills and makeup for the pain and suffering she sustained.

Though the Pennsbury School District carried an $11 million umbrella insurance policy at the time of the incident, it nonetheless claims that it can pay the young woman not more than $500,000. The school district claimed this is due to a state law established in 1978 that capped damages against local governments at that dollar amount. The cap was created at least in part to protect taxpayers from having to pay large damage awards.

The case has made headlines throughout the state and now two state representatives are investigating the issue to determine if reforms are warranted. Believing there should be a way to protect taxpayers while still protecting innocent individuals who are injured through no fault of their own, they are looking to see what types of insurance policies are available, as well as how other states handle issues such as this.

The lawmakers, both of whom represent areas in the Pennsbury School District, hope to unveil the legislation later this winter. It will be named "Ashley's Law" in honor of the young woman in the Pennsbury case.

There is certainly more to come on this issue. As usual, we will continue to monitor the subject and post updates as they become available.

Source: phillyBurbs.com, "Lawmakers hope to ease injury award limits with 'Ashley's Law'," Joan Hellyer, Jan. 13, 2012

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