Pursuing Liability Insurance Places Costs on Those Who Cause The Damage
Insurance Companies Try to Cause Fear About Claims:
Insurance companies try to convince people that it is really bad to make an auto accident insurance claim. Insurance rates will go up, people are trying to get something for nothing, fraud, frivolous claims and lawsuits, and other such arguments that are designed to make people "afraid" to file claims, or to support others who need to file a claim. They have attempted to make the atmosphere in our country, one that makes the person who was injured look like some kind of villain for daring to file a claim.
In the old days, people knew that if they were in a car crash, what pursuing a negligence claim was about. It is about placing the burden of wrongful acts upon those who caused you to be in a car crash. Its better that the wrongdoer pay for the damage he caused due to his wrongful act, than for the innocent victim who did not cause the damage, who also is not in a good position to pay for the damage due to the injury suffered. Forcing the wrongdoer to pay for the damage he caused would have some deterring effect on that person from behaving that way again. If the community felt the act needed some punishment for additional deterrence, then the community could do so through the court system. Its self-preservation of the community that created these laws. Protection from those who don't feel like laws and safety rules should apply to them because they are too inconvenient for them to follow (but interestingly, those same people who feel safety rules shouldn't apply to them are the ones who cry loudest when someone else breaks a safety rule that injures them).
In the last 20-30 years the insurance industry has flipped this logic on its head. They have tried to cause people to believe that when you are in a car crash, that pursuing a claim against a wrongdoer is bad behavior - causing insurance rates to rise for everyone, unnecessary litigation, and expense for the community. You cannot discount these arguments as totally false, as there is some truth in them, otherwise they would not resonate.
But what resonates even louder is the fact that our laws are meant to protect those who do what is right. And to punish those who do wrong. They are intended to force wrongdoers to pay for the damage, harm and loss that they cause. How do we know this is right? Your instincts for self-preservation tell you so. If you allow people to disobey safety laws without consequence, who will be the next victim of the wrongdoer - Your child, your parent, your neighbor, your friend? We have a duty to protect our community from those who would harm it. Forcing those who wrongfully cause injury and harm to others to pay for what they cause is part of protecting our community, pursuing a negligence claim helps the law do what it is supposed to do - protect the community from the wrongful act that caused the injury.
1) Pursuing a Negligence Claim Causes Bad Behavior (misconception):
Many people seem to think that there is an overabundance of people out there faking injury in order to collect on the bonanza of dollars insurance companies are dumping all over fraudulent claims. Nothing can be further from the truth. Insurers are so difficult to deal with now, I can't think of any line of work that would be more difficult and take more effort than to fake an injury in order to make money.
In reality, pursuing your injury claim when you have been in a car crash helps to reinforce "good behavior".
If the community (or a jury) chooses to hold people responsible for their "choices" and illegal behavior, then the community becomes a safer place. For example, if a driver is held responsible for the injury he caused in a wreck, and his insurance company or his business, or he himself is forced to pay, then his insurance rates will rightfully go up, the burden of the harms such as medical bills, lost income, and property damage will rightfully be placed on the shoulders of the wrongdoer. This will cause at least a portion of these people to think twice before engaging in this type behavior again. This burden being placed on the wrongdoer will change the behavior of at least some of those held responsible. This can and does save lives and health of innocent families and victims from injury and death caused by these people. This is done by having a deterring affect on that person from doing the same unsafe, dangerous, or criminal act again in the future.
If the community (or a jury) decides to give the wrongdoer a break, by letting the criminal, unsafe, or dangerous act off without the consequence of paying for what they caused, then the community sends the message that this person's behavior is just fine. That person will continue to behave as they did before, because they will feel vindicated. They will feel that they have been told that their behavior is not only "just an accident", but they will feel that a court and jury has actually endorsed their behavior, and that if they continue to do what they did before that caused harm, that their behavior shouldn't be punished in any way. This leads to more people being killed, injured, and suffering other harms.
If the person who caused the injury and death is not held responsible and forced to pay for their acts; if they do not pay for the medical bills, lost earning capacity, and destruction of health then who does? The injured person will either have:
a) under their health insurance plan - copays, deductibles, and uncovered costs that they will have to pay and lost income and productivity that they will be forced to do without. Often these costs go unpaid because they are too great for the person or their family to bear while they are attempting to cover bills while their loved one is trying to recover and unable to work or contribute to the family;
b) if they have no insurance then the bill goes unpaid, since typically an injured person who cannot afford health insurance is not able to work for some period of time while recovering from their injury, which puts them behind on their regular bills, and puts them into the position that there is no way for them to pay the outstanding medical bills.
2) It Harms the Community Financially to Pursue my Case (misconception):
If the wrongdoer does not pay these outstanding bills, and the injured person is not able to pay these bills, then who does? The community does. The community pays in the form of higher taxes to pay for these unpaid injuries and cover tax breaks that are given medical facilities and hospitals due to these unpaid bills. The community pays in the form of medical facilities and hospitals raising their rates; they have to cover their losses somehow. So those who CAN afford to pay medical bills are forced to pay higher amounts for medical bills due to those wrongdoers who cause the injury being unwilling to pay for their actions. So either the community is forced to suffer by paying higher medical bills and taxes because it refuses to hold criminal, dangerous, or irresponsible behavior responsible by refusing to force these wrongdoers to pay. The community suffers because it endorses dangerous and criminal behavior and by doing so causes more of it to happen, which causes more injuries and death to happen.
These are the ancient reasons why the law, developed over hundreds of years, has chosen to hold wrongdoers responsible. This is why the law requires that if you commit a crime, disobey a regulation or rule, or engage in dangerous activity, and you cause harm to another, that the law requires you to take responsibility for your actions and pay for the harm you caused.
These are also the reasons why if you have been hurt in a car crash by someone else who chooses to violate the law, who chooses to disobey a regulation, who chooses to engage in dangerous behavior, the reasons above are why you have a duty to the community at large to pursue your case and force the wrongdoer and his insurer to admit responsibility, to send a message to the community that this behavior will not be encouraged or endorsed, and to force the wrongdoers pay for what they choose to do. This will will deter at least some people from repeating criminal, regulation breaking, rule breaking, and dangerous behavior. In the process you will do your part in saving the health and lives of those people who would otherwise have been caused personal injury or death if you had chosen not to pursue your case. You will do your part in helping to place the burden of this type behavior on those where it properly belongs . . . on the person or people who caused the death or injury, rather than on the community or on the innocent victim.
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