Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Big Lie About the Economy and Lawsuits

Wade Coye, Insurance Lawyer
I'm sure you have heard it. "People bring more lawsuits when the economy is bad so we need to limit lawsuits, so the economy will get better" Or some variation on this theme. The veiled insinuation is that people manufacture lawsuits because they have experienced some type of economic decline so are more willing to sue businesses and people for reasons other than some harm caused that is attributable to a particular defendant. Comments such as this are inaccurate at best and at worst are a lie created to develop protections from our legal system. If you think about it, how could you have more job injuries when less numbers of people are working and how could you possibly have more car wrecks when people are not driving. The answer is: you can't. A close check of on the job accidents and car wrecks reveals that both numbers drop during recessionary times. Unfortunately misguided statements such as this become cannon fodder for extremist groups who seek to limit a persons right to go to court when damaged.

Economic declines affect lawsuits, but not in ways that are commonly suggested in the media. For instance, if someone is injured in a car wreck and has already lost a job and benefits such as health insurance, this person and their family may have incurred hospital and doctor bills that remain outstanding, which, while perhaps ultimately the responsibility of the defendant, nevertheless contribute to increases stress for the injured person and ultimately requires the payment of higher damages by a defendant. Because health insurance typically pays medical bills at a previously negotiated lower reduced rate, the total outstanding bills paid for damages to a person are therefore lower when a person has health insurance. An uninsured person who is injured has a claim that necessarily requires payment of more bills than a person who has some form of insurance.

When people don't have a job, there are many consequences and the impact is felt in many different ways. But people do not file lawsuits and pursue legal matters because they want to or because they think there is going to be some type of a payday. Lawsuits are filed because a person or corporation was negligent and someone was damaged. Our legal system provides one of the best ways to resolve disputes about liability in our society and efforts made to eliminate this right do not promote justice and fairness.

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