When I’m in the courtroom, I’m advocating for one specific injured party. A few weeks ago, before the House Judiciary Committee, I had the privilege of being an advocate for many injured parties when I testified in support of Senate Bill 102. The bill, if passed as it left the Senate Judiciary Committee, would allow Plaintiffs to sue insurance companies directly instead of the individual wrongdoer, as is currently required in Maryland (assuming the Plaintiff was willing to cap his/her recovery at the insurance proceeds of the applicable policy). A few other states already allow this. The law, if passed, would protect many individuals from having their personal assets subject to potential judgments, so it would be a great outcome for consumers.
Instead of looking out for their insureds, however, the insurance companies fought the bill. Instead of fighting for a bill that would protect their insureds from the prospect of potential excess judgments, saving consumers considerable angst and, in some situations, actual economic peril, the insurance companies lined up to fight AGAINST it, spending considerable resources to make sure that their insureds are still subject to excess verdicts. Why? Because the insurance companies perceive that, if jurors know the truth, that is, that they are paying verdicts, not the consumer, verdicts will go up. Imagine that- insurance companies fighting for profits over policyholders. Priorities.
It’s past time for jurors to know the truth about insurance involvement in these cases, instead of allowing the defense to perpetrate the myth that individuals themselves are going to have to pay certain verdicts in negligence cases, which is exactly what happens in these cases at trial. Jurors are kept in the dark about insurance companies’ roles in these trials, from paying the defense attorney to paying the verdicts.
I’m proud to have been part of a group of attorneys (a few pictured, some still inside the hearing room) who took time away from their practices to advocate for individuals over the insurance companies. It’s important to remember that we’re not just personal injury attorneys- we’re advocates for the injured and consumers at large. Hell, in this particular instance, we were also trying to help every insurance company insured, in that this bill would have protected them from the prospect of excess verdicts in the overwhelming majority of these cases. If only the insurance companies could have seen that over their stacks and stacks of profits.