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Welcome back to general insurance and congratulations on being two thirds through the course! I hope you all did well on Exam Two! I think you’ll find this course very interesting, as well as very useful in your personal life.
We will talk about liability risks and then, in the next module, we go into homeowners insurance that I’m sure you will find it very helpful in your personal insurance planning, as well as in Chapter 22, where we will cover the automobile insurance policy. The last module in this section of the course will cover Chapters 25 and 26 on commercial property and commercial liability insurance. A lot of that information is similar to what we will talk about in this chapter.
Now here we will discuss the law of negligence in tort reform. You have heard a lot about tort reform and how different states address different liability issues. I think you’ll find that tort reform is very important to the success of the insurance industry. We will talk about specific topics such as the law of negligence, elements of negligence, application of the law of negligence to specific situations, and tort reform.
Take a moment now before we start all of these interesting topics, and google an interesting lawsuit! I just put in my computer crazy liability claims, and I found the 10 most ridiculous lawsuits of all times.
http://www.the-injury-lawyer-directory.com/ridiculous_lawsuits.html . On sites such as this, you will find how some plans and even criminals may stretch the law to try to receive compensation and liabilities. For example the second claim listed is entitled if you can’t sue the system, sue yourself. It states in 1995 Robert Brock sued himself for $5 million. He claimed that he had violated his own civil rights and religious beliefs, allowing himself to get drunk and commit crimes which landed him in jail, serving a twenty-three year sentence for grand larceny and breaking and entering. What could he possibly have to gain by suing himself? Since being in prison prevented him from having an income, he expected that the state would pay. Fortunately, that case was thrown out.
You can find thousands of other cases equally ridiculous if you just spend a little time googling liability claims involving tort reform. Following through the chapter on the law of negligence, you will find a lot of these terms are similar to what you might’ve started in your business law class. The course begins by providing a basis of legal ability including specific definitions for important terms such as torts, negligence, strict liability, and damages. You will see a breakdown of most of these times and or specific definitions depending on the exact situation.
It’s important for students to understand the elements of negligence to understand the entire liability process. Note on slide six and again on page 407 in your textbook that four elements must occur before an act is declared negligence. These four necessary elements are:
1. Existence of a legal duty to use reasonable care.
2. Failure to perform that duty.
3. Damage or injury to the claimant
4. Proximate cause relationship must exist between the negligent act and the inflection of damages, which requires an unbroken chain of events.
I challenge you to find a case that is one such as I just described, and see which of these necessary elements was breached, leading to the case being thrown out. Often the juries to decide that there is a failure to prove one of these necessary elements.
The next part of the chapter provides a good discussion on the touch of damages for what someone may make a claim. You’ll see an Exhibit 19.1 on the slides that the majority of the damages can be broken down into two categories, compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages may also be either special damages, which are also called specifics, or general damages. The general damages are four items such as intangible losses including pain and suffering and mental anguish.
Continue reading through these important definitions of negligence and liability terms including imputed negligence, Res Ipsa Loquitur, meaning the thing speaks for itself, and other specific applications of the law. There’s some exciting or interesting examples of each of these in your text.
It would be great if every individual could prove some of the information included in this chapter. For example Exhibit 19.2 on page 413 sows tort cost relative to GDP in the US. The cost of liability claims and the use of the tort system is enormous. Obviously you have read a lot about problems with the tort system and these are included in your text as well. For example, you’ve probably heard about high jury awards and long delays in settling lawsuits. Many of these claims result in very little of the judgment going to an effective use.
Every state has established some type of tort legislation over the last few decades. Please review the common issues addressed on page 417 and after that you will get an idea of the reasons for some of these changes. Pay careful attention to some commonly used terms such as collateral source rule and joint and several liability role. These are two terms that you hear quite often and are critical to the finding of efficient tort system.
Make sure you get a good grasp of these terms because we will be referring to them in Chapters 20 through 22 when we talk about the homeowners’ policy and the automobile policy.
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