H. B. 2939
(By Delegates Shelton and Stalnaker)
[Introduced February 10, 2003; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend article five, chapter twenty-four-a of the code of
West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as
amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section,
designated section five-a, relating to limiting noneconomic
damages recoverable in an action brought by an uninsured
motorist against a public transportation provider.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That article five, chapter twenty-four-a of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be
amended by adding thereto a new section, designated section five-a,
to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5. POWERS AND DUTIES OF COMMISSION.
§24A-5-5a. Uninsured motorist coverage limit on public transportation providers.
(a) Legislative findings and declaration of purpose. -- The
Legislature hereby finds and declares that the citizens of this
state are entitled to the best public transportation available and
that public transportation providers offer an essential and basic
service which requires that the public policy of this state
encourage and facilitate the provision of such service to our
(1) That our system of litigation is an essential component of
this state?s interest in providing adequate and reasonable
compensation to those persons who suffer from injury or death as a
result of a liable party;
(2) That our system of litigation with regards to uninsured
motorist falls short of fair by economically punishing properly
insured parties without significantly discouraging uninsured
(3) That liability auto insurance is an important part of our
system of protecting injured parties, while fulfilling the need and
fairness of limiting the costs of the uninsured motorist insurance
provider so as to ensure to the extent possible the highest quality
of public transportation;
(4) That a further important component of these protections is
to discourage uninsured motorists from driving on the roads of West
(5) That in recent years, the cost of automobile liability
insurance coverage has risen dramatically while the nature and
extent of coverage has diminished, creating an imbalance of
fairness between properly insured motorists and uninsured
(6) That many of the factors and reasons contributing to the
increased cost and diminished availability of public transportation
liability and uninsured motorist insurance arise from the historic
inability of this state to effectively control the passage of
uninsured motorists on West Virginia roads, particularly from
bordering states without mandatory insurance laws;
(7) That nonliable parties providing uninsured motorist
protections are entitled to relief based solely on the fact that
they are nonliable; and
(8) Therefore, the purpose of this enactment is to provide for
a comprehensive resolution of the matters and factors which the
Legislature finds must be addressed to accomplish the goals set
forth above. In so doing, the Legislature has determined that reforms in the uninsured motorist law must be enacted.
(b) Limit on uninsured motorist coverage for noneconomic loss.
-- In any uninsured motorist action brought against a public
transportation provider governed by the provisions of this chapter,
the maximum amount recoverable as damages for noneconomic loss may
not exceed five thousand dollars and the jury shall be so
(c) Limit on liability for drivers and passengers of uninsured
vehicles. -- In any liability action brought against a properly
insured motorist by the driver or passengers of an improperly or
uninsured vehicle, the action shall be dismissed with prejudice.
(d) Seizure of uninsured vehicles. -- Any vehicle found to be
traveling the roads of this state without proper insurance coverage
or proof thereof, may be impounded immediately. The vehicle may
only be released after proof of insurance is presented. All towing
and storage fees, regardless of circumstance, will be the
responsibility of the vehicle owner. Vehicles abandoned more than
thirty days will be sold at auction by the impounding authority.
The penalty for a first offense of driving without insurance is a
mandatory fine of two hundred fifty dollars, to be paid prior to
release of the vehicle. The penalty for a second or subsequent offense is mandatory forfeiture of the vehicle.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to limit recovery of
noneconomic damages in an action brought by an uninsured motorist
action against a public transportation provider to $5,000.000.
is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.