Saturday, October 31, 2020

Local car accident takes toll

Insurance company logic has always been questionable. Tokio Marine HCC, the company that handles insurance claims for the City of Plattsburgh, is an example of just that.

On Oct. 26 2019, a police patrol SUV collided with another vehicle belonging to Pizza Bonos delivery driver Jonathan Parker after running a stop sign on Marion street while turning up Clinton Street, according to a report by the Press Republican. Both vehicles suffered damages but Parker’s 2012 Honda Civic was totaled.

Parker’s job as a delivery driver requires him to have a car. He was forced to dip into his scarce savings and purchase a new one, which caused him to suffer financially in terms of rent and other bills.

The ordeal became worse in January when Parker received a letter from Tokio Marine HCC deeming the officer in question free of any responsibility for the accident because he was “in the call of duty.” The Press Republican reported that the officer said he was in pursuit of a suspect.

Yes, you read that right.

The company told Parker he was on his own for the expenses suffered at the fault of the officer despite a dashcam video taken from a parked car on Clinton Street depicting the collision. Parker is seen driving up the street when the police SUV struck the front-end of his car—no flashing lights or sirens were on. On top of that, both Levi Rittler, the city police chief, and Colin Read, city mayor, have publicly stated the officer was at fault. Yet Parker’s pockets are still hurting from the endeavor.

“Since the cops didn’t have lights, they should be liable,” Plattsburgh State Sophomore Dominique Dixon said. “There was no way to know that the cops were in an emergency while traveling at such high speeds.”

This kind of logic confirms the suspicion of insurance companies finding any loophole they can to avoid spending money. What if Parker didn’t have any savings to begin with? What if he couldn’t buy a car on such short notice? It’s a possibility that he could take on another position at Pizza Bono, but it’s also a possibility that Parker could have lost his job.

The American Association for Justice, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, is an advocacy group that “works to make sure people have a fair chance to receive justice through the legal system when they are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others – even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations,” according to its website Justice.org. The group was started by nine plantiff attorneys who wanted to provide future  trial attorneys crucial information for multiple kinds of cases.

The website published a piece about an increase of insurance companies denying claims more often to boost its bottom line—a company’s earnings, profit, net income, or earnings per share. It describes situations similar to parker’s: vehicle collisions, injuries and other unfortunate events that all end with the victim’s insurance denying their claim.

The AAJ spoke with victims and Supreme Court officials who see cases when an individual sues their insurance for the money they were wrongfully denied.

“Insurers are generally attempting to convince the customer when selling the policy that everything is covered and convince the court when a claim is made that nothing is covered,” the AAJ writes.

Tokio Marine HCC had a lapse in judgement the second they wrote that letter to Parker. How is it possible for them to side with the police officer when the police chief himself said Parker was not in the wrong? It is only right that he is compensated for the collision.

 

Email Mataeo Smith at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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