For years car insurance companies have decried the “greed” and audacity of personal injury plaintiffs and their lawyers for bringing lawsuits over injuries in car accidents. Now, irony of ironies, these same insurance companies are launching a tidal wave of lawsuits as they go after the uninsured and underinsured.
Let me be clear; there is nothing wrong or immoral about an insurance company seeking subrogation. The concept is sound. What is disguising is their willingness to sue the uninsured into a lifetime of debt. It is a fact that trial lawyers do not personally sue uninsured individuals unless there are substantial assets. Why not? Not only is it unproductive because liquidating meager assets yields little cash but there is a fairness problem. No right minded lawyer wants to sue an average person into the poorhouse over a negligent act.
The major car insurance companies in the United States have no such qualms. We get bombarded weekly by the defendants in these lawsuits brought by insurance companies. One asked just today “is getting a lawyer my only option?” Sadly, they probably cannot afford to do even that.
What is driving this wave of litigation? Corporate greed, plain and simple. The insurers hire lawyers on a contingency and sue even the poorest into a judgment. There is no mercy. I used to just be State Farm, but now most of the big insurers pursue subrogation suits.
What is the typical fact pattern?
1. Defendants insurance had lapsed due to nonpayment. Most common. They were too broke to afford car insurance and won’t be much better of now. Best option is to fight the who dunnit issue if you have a leg to stand on. Bankruptcy is also an option.
2. They had minimum limits coverage for property damage in the amount of $25,000 and there was more than that in damage to other people’s cars. There are some options here. You get a free lawyer from your insurance company to defend you. Just call them. They can argue you did not cause the crash.
3. They had minimum limits of $25,000 and caused a bad injury that used up that policy and the victim used their own injury underinsured motorist coverage. The victims insurance is suing to recover what they paid on the injury. Options especially if the UM insurer settled with the victim. You get the free lawyer and an argument in addition to liability; they paid too much to settle the claim.
There are few happy endings to situation number 1. At least you get a free lawyer in situation 2 and 3. Thank you insurance companies for doing things even bad trial lawyers ethically abstain from. Suing the poor. Nice work, fellas.