Home Commentary Open forum Insurance Awards Should Not be Limited

Insurance Awards Should Not be Limited


Dear Source:
I have been a resident of St Thomas, U.S.V.I. for the past eight years. I have been employed as a paralegal in a plaintiff's personal injury law firm in New York City and an interpreter in The District Court Of the United States Virgin Islands. I do not know the law, but I have witnessed persons injured by and the survivors of those killed as a result of the negligence of others.
I have witnessed individuals permanently maimed by others that have acted negligently, those who have been reduced to vegetables by those that have acted negligently, and the survivors of those killed by those that have acted negligently.
The victim's recourse was to attempt to recoup some of the losses that they had suffered by filing a lawsuit. The awards, via settlement or verdict were never adequate. The awards represented mere attempts to right the wrong that they have suffered. The awards reimbursed them for economic losses, the medical expenses and the loss of income that they have, and will incur, as well as the non economic loss, the pain and suffering that they have and will incur, the shortened life expectancy as a result of the their injury, and the emotional distress as a result of their injury.
The notion of limiting the liability of a tortfeasor to $75,000 for damages that he has caused is asinine. The act of vetoing the attempt of the legislature to rectify this flaw in the Virgin Island law is the most Republican move that a so-called Democrat has ever performed.
The veto of the attempt of the legislature to remove the cap on non- economic losses was not in the best interest of the residents of the Virgin Islands. A resident of the Virgin Islands and a victim, maimed, disabled or killed by a tortfeasor, is limited to a recovery of $75,000 for the pain and suffering that they have and will incur, the shortened life expectancy as a result of the their injury, and the emotional distress as a result of their injury. Moreover, they are limited to $75,000 in compensation for the inability to contribute to the welfare of his family, indeed, the ability to not be an economic burden to his family in the future. The limitation protects the tortfeasor.
The reasons for the veto as stated by the lt. governor, to attract insurance companies to the territory, exposes his naiveté of the insurance industry.
Insurance companies have two departments, the first, "the pay-in department", the second, and "the pay-out department".
The pay-in department is always ready to assist you to protect your assets. They will insure you against any event that you may be liable for or loss that you may incur for a premium. You determine the amount of their coverage by determining the amount of protection you wish to be reimbursed for, and accordingly, the amount of your premium. The higher the insurance company's coverage, the higher the premium. You continuously pay that premium whether or not you have a loss as a result of an event they have promised to protect against. The premium is earned by them whether or not you suffer a loss. It is nonrefundable in the event you do not have a loss.
If you do have a loss, you are referred to the payout department. The Payout department is always out to lunch.
If and when you get to the payout department, you then become an adversary of your insurance company. Your first inkling of the difference in the departments is that the pay out department informs you that your policy does not cover this type of loss. You note that the coffee and donuts that were provided by the pay-in department are missing.
If the payout department determines that your loss is covered by your policy, they will fight you to reduce the amount that they must pay. If Your policy only limits their coverage of your loss to $10,000, that amount is all you will receive to reimburse the victim, the person that You have maimed, disabled or killed. If the victim is awarded a higher amount for damages, you, the policyholder, are liable for all Amounts over and above the policy limits.
The Virgin Islands mandates that every vehicle carry an insurance policy of $10,000. If the tortfeasor has caused you to be maimed, disabled, or killed as a result of his negligence, the insurance will cover the first $10,000 of his liability. Under the current law, if the tortfeasor has caused more than $10,000 of damages, he is limited to pay you $75,000 That limitation applies whether or not he can pay to right the wrong that that he has caused you, or your survivors. That limitation applies whether or not you are in a wheel chair, on the operating table, cannot work, or cannot perform the functions of life to maintain your dignity.
It is possible to purchase a policy to protect your assets for any eventuality. Why limit the amount that the victim can receive to $75,000? The answer is obvious, to protect the tortfeasors, not the insurance companies, as stated by the lt. governor, that contract to protect them.
The limitation protects the assets of those who have committed a wrong against another, while turning its back on the victim. The idea of limiting damages in lawsuits is a Republican notion in origin. Republicans represent the philosophy of the capitalist, less government regulation of business and lower taxes. It does not represent welfare of the common man, those that need the government to redistribute the wealth, to level the playing field. The Republican philosophy is one that protects the deep pockets of the United States, not the victims of their adverseness.
The residents of the Virgin Islands need protection, not the tortfeasors with deep pockets.
Rita Silva
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to [email protected].


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here