Yesterday, I told you about my friend David’s accident. Ten days in the hospital, two rods in his leg, many weeks of rotten sleep and much needed painkillers. Fifty thousand dollars or so in hospital bills, not entirely reimbursed by his health insurance, plus loss of income from his work. From today’s lawsuit auto insurance system, staunchly defended by Ralph Nader and the trial lawyers, he will likely get nothing.

Well, the trial lawyers and Nader say, it’s the price we pay for justice. If the wrongdoers have nothing to sue for (or leave the scene or can’t be proven to have been at fault), that’s just tough luck.

(Under the system Nader and the lawyers fooled voters into rejecting, David would have been fully and promptly compensated for his medical, rehab and wage loss, and been awarded a sizable payment for pain and suffering.)

The irony — and I think it is perhaps beginning to annoy my normally unflappable friend — is that at the same time as he is getting nothing for his injury from the system, he is being sued by someone else, in connection with a separate accident.

In that one, David was not even involved. He was at home. It was his partner who, at the wheel of David’s 1992 Nissan Sentra, was turning a corner — it was nighttime — when he heard a loud thump. He got out of the car and found that a young man on a bike had smashed into the car and was bleeding from the head. Fortunately, it was not too serious. The young man was back at work a couple of days later.

So here is David, who had insurance, getting nothing or next to nothing for a smashed leg, ten days in the hospital, metal implants, pneumonia, and what are likely to be months on painkillers. He is likely to be out of pocket $10,000 or $20,000.

On top of which, here he is being sued for an accident he was nowhere near, by a kid who may well have been at fault (but insurers can’t afford to take all these things to trial, and how do you prove exactly what happened in a split second on a dark night?) and who was, in any event, back at work a couple of days later. There’s a reasonable chance that the injured bike rider will get several thousand dollars, his lawyer will get several thousand, and my friend’s insurance rates will go up.

It’s a system only a lawyer could love. In California, it transfers $2.5 billion a year from the pockets of consumers and crash victims into the pockets of plaintiff and insurance company lawyers.

 

 

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