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Friday, February 8, 2013

This Man (and his friends) Don't Care About You...

This is Andre Jacque, from the 2nd Assembly District of Wisconsin.


                                                               Photo from Wis.gov

He looks, well, very unattractive.  And yes, he is smiling at you, but his smile says "F**k you!"

You may or may not know him. I didn't until he pushed Assembly Bill 180, otherwise known as the "pothole liability" law.  I wrote about that here: Pothole Liability  He effectively took your rights away to sue for defective roadways.

And, surprise, surprise, he is back at it.  He has introduced a bill, dubiously titled "Jury Information Act."  This bill would do away with Wisconsin's Collateral Source Rule.  If you are injured, and have insurance, your insurance company has a discounted rate of what it actually pays for your care versus what the medical provider charges.  ER may charge $10,000, but because of the discount, your insurance provider may only pay $1,000.

The Collateral Source Rule prohibits insurance attorneys from telling the jury that (1) injured person has insurance, and (2) that insurance only paid, and medical provider accepted, $1,000.  That is because Wisconsin law allows an injured party to claim the actual value of the medical bills for his/her damages.  So, in our example, the injured person could request payment of $10,000 for being injured.

With this new bill, the uncaring jerk pictured above, wants to take a injured person's right to be fairly and fully compensated away from the individual.  He wants the jury to have this "information" so that ultimately the jury awards less money and does not compensate the injured party.  Obviously, this serves two purposes: (1) saves insurance companies some money, and (2) screws the injured person.

How does this screw an injured person you ask?  Well, when you obtain health insurance, your contract usually has a subrogation clause.  This clause allows an insurance company to take your money if you receive a settlement or jury verdict.  The reasoning here is that insurance companies argued that if an injured individual had bills paid for by insurance and also received monetary compensation from someone who injured the insured person, the insured person would get a "windfall.  What an insurance company is entitled to be paid back is dependent on whether the contract is governed by Federal law (BAD!) or State law (BETTER- but probably only for a little).

At any rate, with the new proposed law, the jury would be able to hear what an insurance company actually paid.  Thus, insurance attorney can argue that is what the reasonable value of the case is.  Thus, injured individual is unable to obtain the value of what was actually billed.  So, when insurance company comes calling, insurance company could take everything you received from the person who injured you, thus leaving you injured and uncompensated.

Using the example above, if you only had 1 bill for you injuries, and it was $1,000, and a jury awarded you $1,000, the insurance company can (and definitely will) take your $1,000.

So, in the end, you were injured through no fault of your own, you go through treatment, you sue for your damages to your body and mind (which may or may not be permanent) and in the end one insurance company essentially just transfers funds to another insurance company leaving you with nothing.

Sound fair? Sound just?  Sound like a good law?  If you have any intelligence, your answer to those questions should be no, unless you (a) work in insurance or (b) are pictured above.

This bill not only helps insurance companies, but also benefits drunk drivers, people texting while driving, people not paying attention while operating a vehicle.  Do we really want to protect drunk drivers?  Does that seem smart? Most importantly, does that seem fair?  Why should we benefit people who make reckless or bad choices?  Is a state that rewards such behavior a state you want to live in? Raise children in?

What can you do?  Spread the word about this bill and tell legislators that it is a bad bill which should not be supported or passed.  Explain to our legislators why it is a bad bill.  Explain to legislators that there job is to legislate for us, the citizens, and they are there to protect us.  This bill does nothing except hurt the injured people of this state.  It takes away their ability to be fairly and fully compensated for their injuries and to have money for future care related to their injuries.

Here is the email for Jacque: Rep.Jacque@legis.wisconsin.gov

Emailing him is a good start.  Then start emailing and calling others. This state, which was such a good state, is falling apart at the hands of those currently in power.  Attacks against citizens of this state must stop.

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