The hidden cost of tort deform

General Motors knew that its ignition switches were faulty but allowed people to continue to drive Chevy Cobalts and other cars for years.  To date, 49 of those people have died in crashed related to the defective switches, and many more suffered horrific injuries.

burningcar

However, many families of these innocent victims have not been able to obtain justice.  Many states, including Ohio, place a limit on the amount of compensation injury victims and their families can get under the guise of “tort reform.”  As pointed out in this recent New York Times piece, it simply becomes too expensive to bring a case, in light of what the law allows to be recovered.  Said another way, by the time experts are hired to prove the case, the value of the injuries and suffering is not enough to obtain a successful result.

In fact, Ohio even takes the added step of cutting off the right to bring a case after the product is 10 years old.  This “statute of repose” applies even if it is defective and dangerous and even if the manufacturer knew of the problem.

What does this mean to you:  

No one would dispute that frivoulous lawsuits have no place in our legal system. The dispute is, what constitutes “frivolous” and who gets to decide?  Politicians or a jury of your peers?

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Shhh! We’d like to keep our fraud secret!

So, Über and Lyft want to keep their insurance policies secret, which raises a lot of questions in my mind.  Like, what are they hiding?  And specifically, what is covered by the policy?  Is it only the driver, or are the passengers covered too?  Seems like we should be allowed to know the answers.

secret

 

Interestingly, the companies are required to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage – insurance that protects you when you are not at fault.  But, there is no requirement that the rest of us buy uninsured motorists coverage, and there is no requirement that your agent offer or even explain it to you.   Its important enough to require it for those services, but not for everyone else.  Hmmm.

What does this mean to you:

Go now and find out how much uninsured motorists coverage you carry on your insurance policy.  We will wait for you here.  Yes, its that important.  Go on.

Do you have uninsured motorists coverage in your auto policy?  Do you also have it in your umbrella policy?  What are the limits?  Considering that almost 15% of drivers carry no insurance and many more do not carry enough insurance, do you have high enough limits?

 

The passengers on the bus go ’round and ’round

Seat belts have been mandatory in cars since 1968.  Seat belts are even required in airplanes, where there is usually no such thing as a “minor” crash.  Why, then, are no seat belts in commercial or school buses?

Bus travel

It seems the bus industry has resisted efforts to mandate seat belts in new buses, or to retrofit old buses with new seat belts.  You see, the health and safety of those pesky passengers shouldn’t get in the way of the bottom line.

What does this mean to you:

Be careful when selecting your preferred method of travel.

 

It can wait

 

As noted earlier this year, April is Distracted Driving Awareness month.  Since then, though, the number of deaths from texting while driving just in Ohio – not to mention nationwide – continues to rise.

At least she’s got one hand on the wheel…

There is a new resource available at EndDD.org.  It shares the real-world story of Casey Feldman who was struck and killed by a texting driver as she crossed the street.  EndDD.org also has a checklist of pledges, which can be especially helpful for teenage drivers.

What does this mean to you:

Ohio’s texting while driving ban went into effect at the beginning of September.  Not only is it now against the law, its just dangerous.  Put down the cell phone while driving.  Nothing is that important.  It can wait.