As we all do, we were looking over our 2011 financial picture last year. It is always surprising to me to look at some of the categories which we follow. One caught my eye in particular this year, and that is the amount of money we paid to medical providers and insurance carriers from our settlements/verdicts.
What do I mean? Well, when we resolve an injury case, the client typically has to repay some of that money to the health insurance company (BlueCross BlueShield for example), or they have to pay medical bills: ambulance, hospital, etc.
During 2011, we paid these providers and insurance companies: $398,558.20. Almost $400,000.00 was put back into the health care system by our law firm. Some of you may be having an "aha" moment. Others may still be scratching their heads. Let me try to explain why this is important.
Our tort system which has been in place for most, if not all, of the life of this country is essentially an economic shifting mechanism. We are attempting to place financial responsibility on the at-fault party. So, when another driver, company, or doctor causes injury to an individual, that driver, company, or doctor should be responsible for the damages caused, and usually, that driver, company or doctor has insurance to cover those damages: medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.
If the injured individual has health insurance coverage, or other types of insurance, why should those companies bear the costs for these damages when the other person or company was at fault? This is why THEY have insurance. Even worse, if the injured individual does not have any insurance coverage, why should the hospitals, medical providers, and/or TAXPAYERS (Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security) bear the costs as opposed to the person at fault?
Essentially, the tort system is about making the person responsible accountable for the damages they cause. And yet, this system is constantly under attack. By whom? Let's see: the U.S. Chamber, the medical industry, the insurance industry, etc. when, in actuality, tort reform makes no sense.
Think about this the next time you consider voting or the next time you are on a jury in a civil case. It merits consideration.