As a Syracuse and Central New York accident lawyer, I have had loads of experience dealing with car insurance companies and their lawyers. Here’s another example of how insurance companies and their lawyers take frivolous positions in Court that cost you, the taxpayer, money.
My client hired me to bring a Central New York car accident claim on his behalf. Here’s how his Cayuga County car accident happened: He was a passenger in his friend’s car. The friend had stopped at an intersection and was waiting for on-coming traffic to clear so he could turn left. His left blinker was on. Then, — BAM – the car was struck from behind. The driver who rear-ended them admitted to the police right on the scene that he was reading a map while driving so he did not see the stopped car.
After the insurance company refused to settle for a fair amount, I sued the rear-ending driver and his employer (he was on the job when this happened, so the employer is vicariously liable for his negligence). Since the only real disputed issue was what my clients’ extensive injuries were worth (no question about whose fault it was, right?), I made a “summary judgment motion”, that is, I asked the judge to decide, without the need for a jury trial, that the rear-ending driver was solely responsible for the collision. I made this request to the judge right after I sued the case out, and before any “depositions”. Depositions are where the lawyers get to ask the parties questions under oath about how the accident happened so they can try to prove their case, or their defense to the case. But I figured, why should we bother with all that when there was so clearly no issue of whose fault it was?
But the insurance company lawyers did what they do far too often. They responded to my motion by taking a frivolous position. They argued that my request should be denied because they needed “discovery” first. Specifically, they claimed they needed to depose my client (ask him questions under oath) to see if he might have done something to cause the rear-end collision.
Now let’s get this straight: My client, a passenger in a stopped car waiting to turn left, might have done something to cause the map-reading driver to ram his car into the car my client was seated in? Yup, that was their position, I kid you not!
Fortunately, I found several cases to support my request for the judge to rule in my client’s favor, even at such an early stage of the case. The judges in those other cases realized that conducting depositions was a waste of time when the defendant was so clearly at fault. The judge in my case followed those other cases, and ruled in my client’s favor. But I could not help but think of the waste of the judge’s time, his clerk’s time, his secretary’s time, in considering and deciding an issue that the insurance company and its lawyers should have just stipulated to.
So when people talk about “frivolous lawsuits” clogging our courts and costing taxpayers money, yes, it makes me mad, because I know from my years of experience as a Central New York personal injury lawyer that it is more often the insurance companies and their lawyers that clog our court system with frivolous defenses.