History and Research show Insurance in Wisconsin will remain available and affordable
Business claims not backed by facts
Today’s press conference organized by the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council, Inc. with key supporters like the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) and the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, is using scare tactics, not facts in their efforts to convince legislators to side with them over Wisconsin consumers.
This group will not rest until they are able to remove all of the checks and balances in the legal system which hold them accountable for their actions. This concept of joint and several liability is designed to make sure that the financial burden caused by an accident where several parties are involved does not fall solely to the injured party. Rather, it would hold the people responsible for causing the accident accountable for their actions.
The problem is the facts don’t support their claims. Consider these points:
- Liability reform contained in the state budget largely returns the law to the way it worked prior to 1995, when legislators aligned with big business and insurance rushed through legislation at their request. Prior to 1995 Wisconsin had tourism, ski hills and a wide variety of businesses.
- The application of Joint and Several Liability is not common. In fact when the State Bar of Wisconsin investigated the number of jury verdicts that involved joint and several liability in personal injury cases in the 1980s, they found it only applied in 1.6% of the cases.
- The 1% negligent held 100% financially responsible example commonly mentioned is not common. The State bar study of cases in the 1980’s also found the average negligence attributed to the wrongdoer held jointly liable was 35%.
- According to the newly released publication Civil Justice in Wisconsin: A Fact Book, Wisconsin citizens resort to state and federal courts at a low rate compared to other states.
- Also noted in the Fact Book and based on rankings and surveys by the US Chamber of Commerce there is no evidence that Wisconsin’s legal climate negatively affects business or investment in the state.
- Wisconsin will continue to benefit from a great deal of competition in the insurance industry which holds costs down.
- The “effect of the verdict” provision will ensure that juries are able to make decisions with all of the facts at hand and Wisconsin will join 31 other states that have adopted these juror sunshine rules. Wisconsin citizens can be trusted to make the right decisions with all of the facts.
We have witnessed over the past 15 years an alarming number of legislative and corporate decisions that have tilted the playing field drastically in favor of corporations over consumers. The results have been disastrous for the average consumer and taxpayer.
While we give billions in taxpayer subsidies to members of the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, like AIG, they continue to believe that they are the only ones who should make the rules. Wisconsin citizens deserve to know that wrongdoers will be held accountable for their actions and not be stuck with the bill for someone else’s negligence.
Unfortunately, there is no organization of people who will be hurt in the future by the actions of another party to step forward and counter today’s press conference. But as advocates for those yet to be injured and defenders of our system of checks and balances through the use of the civil justice system, we urge the legislature to side with consumers and enact the proposed joint and several liability reforms in the state budget.