Auto accident victims have been under siege in the last 9 to 10 years in California. It is not an attack you will read about because it is not news worthy, hidden among the issues of our time. It is not a bludgeoning of victims by a
sinister character in a mask. It is however every bit as degrading and hurtful. We are denying those injured in an accident the ability to receive fair compensation. Let’s take an example.
A victim is rear-ender by a cell phone preoccupied defendant. The injury is not significant, but still real. It is called soft tissue injury. While there have been countless medical journal articles written about soft tissue injury, that it occurs, that it is painful, that some heal faster than others, one thing is true about it, it is difficult to prove. We usually have no baseline to compare when we talk of loss of range of motion or x-ray changes, because the person has been healthy. It is a diagnosis largely based upon the findings of pain, a “subjective complaint”, and spasms.
We are tired of paying the cost of insurance, so we have asked our insurance companies to lower premiums. In response they have hired, as employees, a slew of lawyers and adjusters to victimize us with their skeptical eye and costly endeavor to grind from the victim the savings we need. The Defendant’s insurance company will hire an expert (One that always says the same thing on their behalf, even if it is not medically accurate) to say this type of injury should not occur, or that the victim over-treated or that the victim is not entitled to go to a certain kind of doctor or take off of work.
Ten years ago, these claims resolved with little fanfare. The focus of most insurance was the payment of reasonable compensation to the injured person. Avoid fraud, but take care of the victim. No so today and here is the rub. Insurance companies have become more than a processor of claims, they dictate to the victim and society what will be acceptable. That role is dangerously unmonitored, since insurance companies can act without any controls. No longer able to be sued for bad faith adjustment of claims, and reporting the insurance commissioner is a joke, they will act as they want.
An attorney out of necessity will process the victim’s claim because the victim cannot work with the rude and belligerent adjuster whose sole job is to save the insurance company a buck at his or her expense. Since the victim must pay an attorney, the reality is they will not be properly compensated. Trial is expensive and jurors are unwilling to take time from their day to hear such cases.
The Defendant could care less. Protected by bankruptcy from large verdicts, provided a defense by his insurance company, and offered “immunity” from his actions like some reality show on TV, he continues to drive while on his cell phone, or whatever the distraction. The victim is left to solve her problem alone.
The point is that Insurance Companies are not good protectors of our rights or the rights of a victim. What shall we do?
Renew liability if the insurance company acts wrongfully in the adjustment of the claim by making them pay the attorney fee if proven. Or how about making the wrongdoers pay for the insurance company behavior. Imagine if the defendant had to pay for the victim’s attorney fees personally. Wouldn’t the defendant then want to see that his insurance company resolved the issue without attorneys? Imagine that — a fair system to both sides.
What do you think? To stop spam start your message with “HEY JIM”