A BILL to amend the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding thereto a new chapter, designated chapter fifty-five-a, relating to establishing an injured consumers legal bill of rights, reforming the civil justice system, providing that chapter is not applicable to certain actions; stating legislative findings and declarations of purposes; defining terms used in chapter; restricting contact by attorneys and insurers with potential claimants; authorizing claimants to elect fee arrangement with attorneys; establishing right of claimants to receive written statement of fees and estimated expenses; establishing a public policy suggested maximum contingency fee schedule; providing a right of cancellation of contingency fee agreement; providing a contingency fee information fact sheet; prohibiting disclosure of names of claimants receiving periodic payments to persons interested in converting payments to a lump sum; establishing criminal penalties; regarding the recovery of punitive damages; establishing what a plaintiff must prove and the trier of fact must find before the trier of fact may award punitive damages; stating circumstances when punitive damages may not be awarded and a defendant may not be held liable for punitive damages; providing the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded against large employers and the amount that may be awarded against all others; providing maximum amounts which may be awarded on multiple punitive damage awards for the same course of conduct; providing for the bifurcation of a civil action in which punitive damages are sought when requested by a defendant; providing for the allocation of punitive damage awards among the public, the plaintiff, and the plaintiff's attorneys; stating the conditions under which punitive damages may be assessed against a principal or employer for an act of an agent or employee and against an association, limited liability entity, or partnership for the acts of a member or partner; predicating actions for damages upon principles of comparative fault; establishing the comparative fault standard; abolishing joint liability; describing how to consider the fault of nonparties; describing how to consider the fault of, and the amounts paid by, settling parties; providing for the use of special interrogatories; allowing the assessment of a percentage of fault for failing to take reasonable precautionary measures that are available; precluding recovery by a plaintiff injured while involved in a felony criminal act; precluding the allocation of fault to a person such as a seller, distributor, or installer on a strict product liability theory where that person did not contribute to the alleged defect; providing for the burden of proof and limitations; reducing damage awards by collateral source payments; providing how such reductions shall be determined; stating the effects of such determinations upon the trial; providing for a statute of repose; providing maximum amounts that may be recovered for noneconomic losses; and providing for repeal of conflicting laws, the applicability of the Injured Consumers Bill of Rights and Civil Justice Reform Act of 1998, and a severability clause.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
ARTICLE 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS.
|PORTION OF AWARD||SUGGESTED MAXIMUM FEE||ATTORNEY'S FEE|
|On first $200,000||30 to 35 percent||___ percent|
|On amount between $200,000 and $500,000||25 to 30 percent||___ percent|
|On amount over $500,000||15 to 25 percent||___ percent|
§55A-5-1. Reduction in compensatory damages for collateral sources payments.
§55A-5-2. Postverdict determination of reduction in compensatory damages.