What kind of action do you have?

Not all cases involving hundreds or thousands of plaintiffs are class actions.  Class cases make the most sense where the wrongful conduct applies the same to everyone affected.  Think of a corporation that misrepresents its financial condition.  All shareholders suffer the exact same loss in share value.

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But what about when the wrongful conduct affects lots of people, but each in their own individual way?  Those cases are called mutli-district litigation, or MDL for short.  MDL’s are common with defective medical devices, where the defect is the same in every case, but the way it affects each person is unique to their circumstances.

The defective Stryker hip implants is an example of a current MDL.  For every implant, the metal in the hip joint begins to fret, or corrode, causing pain and swelling in the hip joint.  Some affected patients may have to have a revision surgery, some won’t, while some may require multiple surgeries.

What does this mean to you:

Class actions get a bad name, perhaps not without merit, for automatically including people without their knowledge.  MDL’s on the other hand, require the plaintiff to actively pursue a claim for their harms and losses.

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You actually want to use it?

I saw a political cartoon a few years back that wondered what other industries would look like if they operated the same way out health insurance system does.  “You want to join our gym?  OK.  However, our data suggests you might actually use the equipment, so you cannot be a member here.”

I’m going to go with C, Bob, for $1,000.

So, as we await the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act in the Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services case (as if the outcome is in doubt), it seemed a post on health insurance was timely.

We all know that health insurance companies exist for one reason and one reason only: to make a profit.  And they seem to be doing quite well at that. One of the ways they recoup funds is through a process called subrogation, which is just a fancy word for “pay back.”  If health insurance pays money for you to go to the doctor, and if it is someone else’s fault you had to go to the doctor – because you were in a car crash or were injured by a defective product – the health insurance company generally has the right to be repaid out of any settlement or recovery you make.

What does this mean to you:

Though health insurance companies often have the right to be paid back in full before the injured person sees dime one (thanks to an Ohio Supreme Court ruling), lawyers handling a personal injury case frequently negotiate with the health carrier to reduce the amount that is owed back..

Leap of faith

Commercials for insurance companies make you feel all warm and fuzzy, don’t they?  If you believe these ads, some insurance companies are like your neighbor (but only the good ones), some are on your side, and others help old ladies cross the street.  What’s your policy?

We got another one. Get the stamp out!

Despite what these ads would have us believe, insurance companies sometimes actually act in downright un-neighborly ways.  Whether it be car insurance claim, a home owners claim, or any other kind of claim, insurance companies exist for one reason and one reason only – to make money.  (If they do anything other than try to maximize profit, they will be sued.)  To expect them to “do the right thing” is, unfortunately, not reality.

Your own insurance company has an obligation to treat you fairly, even if it means, believe it or not, they have to pay.  If your own insurance company wrongly denies your claim, or drags out the claims process, they may be practicing bad faith insurance, sometimes called “first party” bad faith.  One insurance company defense law firm was even nice enough to post some examples of what can be considered bad faith insurance.

What does this mean to you:

Insurance companies spend a lot of money on ad campaigns, mottos, and spokespeople to convince people they treat you fairly.  We all know, that doesn’t always happen.  Keep in mind that if your own insurance company gives you the run around, they may be liable.