Georgia lawmakers endorse end to truck driver direct-action rule

March 22, 2024

Keith Goble


Georgia lawmakers have approved a bill to repeal the state’s direct-action statute. It now heads to the governor’s desk for his expected signature.

The legislative action follows the recommendation of a special legislative panel to help address the needs of truck drivers in the state.

Direct action

In place since the 1930s, the state’s direct-action rule was a leading topic of a legislative panel that met last year to discuss issues described as contributing to a truck driver shortage.

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King told the panel that Georgia is one of four states with a direct-action law. He said the law that allows a plaintiff to take direct action against the responsible insurance company needs to be repealed.

King added that Georgia does not allow any insurer to be named as a defendant in any other business except trucking.

“Only the trucking industry is subject to these kinds of requirements,” he testified.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, added that the cost of insurance for truck drivers has risen so rapidly over the past few years it is creating a competitive issue with other states.

“Georgia is at a competitive disadvantage … because of the cost of their insurance here in Georgia,” he said.

Senate Bill 426

House lawmakers voted unanimously this week to send to Gov. Brian Kemp a bill that would put into place limits on lawsuits filed by individuals injured in truck-related incidents. The Senate already approved the bill on a 46-2 vote.

In place since the 1930s, Georgia law permits injured individuals to sue truck drivers’ insurance companies directly.

“In our state, right now, you can directly sue an insurance carrier when it’s related to a common carrier. Most states have done away with that provision. Georgia has not,” Sen. Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, recently testified.

Tillery’s bill, SB426, would eliminate the state’s direct-action law. Exceptions to the rule would apply to instances when a trucking operation enters bankruptcy or the company cannot be located.

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones welcomed the bill’s passage.

“With the passage of this bill, we are one step closer to providing Georgia’s growing business community the relief it needs,” Jones said in prepared remarks. “If we want to continue to be the No. 1 state in which to do business, we must foster a business-friendly climate. Now, we can help level the playing field when a case reaches the courtroom.” LL

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