Friday, August 06, 2010

Courts, Personal Injuries, the Jury System and those Insurance Companies…

Civilization requires some kind of justice system to right the wrongs that happen in society. If through simple negligence or recklessness we cause injury and damages, the law, courts and our juries fix responsibility.
When people are injured there are often damages that go far beyond medical bills. Unfortunately those causing the damage rarely reimburse those they injure without court intervention or the specter of it.  
To cover such unforeseen accidents we buy insurance.  Insurance companies don’t enjoy their huge profits because of their fairness or prompt payment of legitimate claims. They generally deny everything they can because they know cases most often take years to go to trial in most jurisdictions.

When a claim is made, the insurance company assigns their lawyer to represent the defendant in court.  It is somewhat of a conflict since their real master is not the defendant but his insurance company.  Should the case go to trial the jury is lead to believe the lawyer representing the defendant is his when in fact he the insurance company’s lawyer.
Insurance is the forbidden word in personal injury court trials. Insurance companies have horrible reputations and know that they are not popular with the average juror. If you hear that word during a trial the defense will always demand and get a mistrial. They want jurors to believe the defendant is paying out of his own pocket.  
Insurance companies exploit the fact that plaintiffs die, forget important facts or can no longer pursue their claims. Witnesses disappear, die, and forget what they saw or just decide they no longer want to cooperate. Claims simply go away when trials are delayed. Denying or putting off claims saves insurance companies billions. The delay game always helps insurance companies avoid responsibility.
Of course there are exaggerated claims or plaintiffs that think the hangnail they suffered is worth millions. That’s why we have the jury system.  The jurors protect the rights of the plaintiff to collect for their injuries and damages and stop fraudulent claims cold.
Those rare million dollar verdicts come as a result of deception, cover-ups or other misconduct by defendants or their lawyers in their efforts to avoid fair compensation.
Jurors have wide latitude in awarding more money than they’ve been asked to by a plaintiff. If a jury goes overboard with a verdict the judge will always reduce those verdicts.  Large verdicts always send strong messages to those insurance companies that try to further victimize plaintiffs.
When you get called for jury duty you must put your feet in the shoes of the plaintiff and defendant. That plaintiff or defendant could be you or someone you love.  Of course the defendant will never have to pay from their own pockets because that's why they had insurance.  Hear the case, take you position, stick to it and be proud. 
Remember whatever you award the plaintiff he will have to share as much as 50% with his lawyer.  Of course medical bills, expert witness fees along with significant costs must be paid by the plaintiff in addition to the percentage that goes to the lawyer.  
If the insurance company gets stuck with a generous jury award perhaps next time they will avoid a trial settling the claim in a fair and prompt manner.
Note:  I will follow up with criminal, juvenile and family law courts in future articles.  


Anonymous said...

I love the way insurance company lawyers try to spread the liability around away from their own clients!

"It must have been the distraction caused by the woman in the hot red dress that caused that poor truck driver to run over the blind man and his dog! Hold her responsible!", the lawyer told the jury.

Anonymous said...

The insurance companies seem to own the courts. They always get to hide the prior bad conduct of the defendants.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention how the insurance company lawyers trash the plaintiffs in court to the jury when they don't have any defense.