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Thread: Why Insurance Costs So Much

  1. #1
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    Why Insurance Costs So Much

    LOML works as a receptionist for a law firm that handles cases for one of the major insurance companies. She sees all sorts of stupid lawsuits go by. She told me about one Thursday that takes at least part of the cake, if not the whole thing.

    In a nutshell...

    1. Man is walking along the sidewalk
    2. A dog barks at the man, without leaving his yard (dunno if it was a fenced yard)
    3. Man is startled by barking dog, slips and falls, badly breaking his wrist
    4. Doctor who treats fallen guy botches the job, and the guy ends up with a messed-up wrist

    So of course, the guy with the broken wrist sues...

    ...the dog owner (who is insured by LOML's company). Doesn't matter that the dog never made contact. Doesn't matter that an inept doctor put the broken wrist back together wrong. Doesn't matter that the guy is a total wuss when it comes to barking dogs. But the dog owner got sued, the jury found for the plaintiff, and awarded $900,000 in damages, which the insurance company will pay. (And I know the lawyers who fought the case for the insurance company are no slouches.)

    Broken wrist guy will likely go after the doctor next. They have Malpractice Insurance just for such a thing. He's probably gonna make a career out of that broken wrist.

    And that's one reason why insurance costs are so high.
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  2. #2
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    Only in California!!!

    After all, a California jury awarded a few million to someone who spilled hot coffee in their lap. Like, duhhh, I just bought some coffee and I don't understand it's HOT!?!?!?
    Bill Arnold
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  3. #3
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    Nope, it's not only a California thing. The spilled McDonald's coffee case was from my other stomping grounds, Albuquerque. And although the jury originally awarded millions in punitive damages, the case was appealed and ultimately settled out of court for less than $600,000.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  4. #4
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    If I remember liability law from my college course in law - if your negligence starts a chain of events, you are responsible for the results of the chain of events. The guy who was hurt would not have gone to the doctor if not for the events initiated by the barking dog.

    My memory is that the injured party can choose who to sue. So he can sue the dog owner or the doctor (naturally, he would go after the person with the deepest pockets). But if he goes after the dog's owner for full recovery, the dog owner can then sue the doctor because part of the recovery was due to the doctor's negligence. But doctors are shielded in California to about $250,000 in pain and suffering (if I recall correctly).

    But I'm not a lawyer.

    Mike

    [Also, the McDonald's hot cup of coffee makes a good sound bite, but if you're interested in the truth, do some research on the case on the web. There's lots of analysis on that case and there's more to it than the sound bite.]
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    If I remember liability law from my college course in law - if your negligence starts a chain of events, you are responsible for the results of the chain of events. The guy who was hurt would not have gone to the doctor if not for the events initiated by the barking dog...
    Yep, that's how the jury saw it, too. Had it not been for the dog, the event wouldn't have happened. I'm not sure I see, though, how a dog's bark could be considered negligent.

    I don't know the details about the barking dog...it might have been unfenced and been approaching/charging the man. I do know that no physical contact was made between the dog and the man, though. If it had been a car backfiring instead of a dog barking, I wonder if he would have grounds to sue the car's driver?
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  6. #6
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    I think what's disturbing is the amount that homeowner would be liable for if he didn't have such good insurance.

    Any idea what breed the dog was? Not that it matters, but I've heard of insurance companies denying coverage to dog owners with certain breeds.

    Makes me think it's high time I got some umbrella coverage....
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  7. #7
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    I also have to say it's stories like this that tends to make me want to become a hermit on a compound in the middle of the Nevada desert.





    Oh, right...


    Already there....
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    Yep, that's how the jury saw it, too. Had it not been for the dog, the event wouldn't have happened. I'm not sure I see, though, how a dog's bark could be considered negligent.

    I don't know the details about the barking dog...it might have been unfenced and been approaching/charging the man. I do know that no physical contact was made between the dog and the man, though. If it had been a car backfiring instead of a dog barking, I wonder if he would have grounds to sue the car's driver?
    Juries really are reasonable people (they're you and I). I doubt they would give an award to a plaintiff unless there was something "unusual" about the situation. So maybe it's more than just a dog barking. Suppose the dog was in the house and barked at the guy walking on the sidewalk (maybe through a screen door or window). Would you hold the dog owner liable? Probably not.

    Mike
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    ...So maybe it's more than just a dog barking...
    LOML and I were wondering the same thing. She doesn't have any more details, but she's hoping to learn more about it.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  10. #10
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    that still is uncalled for and the amount is way outa line..if the victum had been in a factroy job. and lost his whole hand he would have gotten that much from the insurances......but if a dog barks he get more????? just not right,,, the sueing laws need to be reworked
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