Insurance companies pinched themselves over their good fortune as the courthouse doors pretty much closed in response to the coronavirus. The third prong of their mantra had suddenly and without precedence become their main weapon of choice to defeat claims brought by injured people.

Oh Karen, you are being overly dramatic and biased, you may be thinking. But let me tell you a story.

Mr. X was killed on the job eight years ago due to a faulty piece of equipment.  A lawsuit was brought
on behalf of his widow and children.  The typical slow going of litigation was made even slower when the court dismissed the lawsuit on a technicality known as the statute of repose. (If something is property and not a product then the action may be time barred).  An appeal followed.  The decision was reversed.  The case sent back for trial.  Another appeal was made by the defense to the state Supreme Court.  Denied.  Seven years had now passed since Mr. X’s wrongful death.

The case was set for trial in April 2020.  The sides finished up their preparation.  Then the pandemic hit. Trial was pushed to October – a date which is in jeopardy.  Not the defense insurance company’s fault. But to their benefit.  Let’s go through why delay helps the insurance company for the defendant when a plaintiff has been injured or in this case killed.

  1. The insurance company for the at fault party does not have to pay anything until the case is completely over.
  2. The insurance company does not have to pay any interest on the money that it will be paying at the end of the case (there are a few exceptions that are rarely enforced).
  3. If the plaintiff is no longer able to work and support their family – the insurance company doesn’t pay until the end of the case.
  4. If the plaintiff has major medical needs and expenses – the insurance company doesn’t pay until the end of the case.
  5. If the plaintiff is facing financial ruin because of lost work, medical expenses – the insurance company doesn’t pay until the end of the case.
  6. The plaintiff who is already in a vulnerable position, may give in to pressure and settle for less than the true amount owed, because they cannot withstand the financial pressures resulting from their injury.
  7. The insurance company will invest and continue to make money off the funds that will eventually be used to pay the claim – at the end of the case.

So Sayeth This Attestant.

Photo: Michael checking out the pasta section at Whole Foods March 15.