The Baltimore Sun’s Jay Hancock continues, improperly, to be given a license by the Baltimore Sun to blog about tort claims while having a limited understanding of Maryland tort claims. I think, and maybe it is just me, this is a bad idea.
He notes in his blog some great news: traffic deaths for Maryland in 2009 were 550, which is 550 too many but down from 614 in 2007 and 707 in 1990, even though Maryland has many more drivers on the road today than it did in 1990. Hancock goes on to assume that we “can be reasonably sure that traffic deaths are a good proxy for accidents, injuries and lawsuits generally,” concluding that Maryland accident lawyers “want a raise” by increasing minimal auto insurance policies drivers must maintain in Maryland.
First of all, I don’t know why we can be reasonably sure that deaths are a good proxy for accidents. Gee, you are a newspaper reporter, can you look up accident statistics in Maryland to find out the trend in the number of personal injury claims? Moreover, the belief that Maryland accident lawyers will see an appreciable difference in income by raising the insurance limits from $20,000 to $30,000 isn’t valid because, as one of the comments to the post points out, there are not that many cases that are (1) valued between $20,000 and $30,000 and (2) where there is no uninsured motorist coverage. Sure, our law firm and every other personal injury law firm is going to have cases like this but, relatively speaking, it is a drop in the bucket. Trust me, Maryland trial lawyers looking to push legislation that puts more money in their pockets, don’t rank this bill among their top 10. But it does help some victims that are likely going to get an unfair result anyway.
Hancock also claims – as he has before – that lawyers typically take 30% of the recovery. Actually, that is not what is typical. Hancock goes on to say that auto accident cases often settle for the policy limits. I would love to know what Mr. Hancock thinks the average auto accident case settles for in Maryland. I think he would be surprised.
I read Jay Hancock pretty regularly. He’s a smart guy and a good writer. And his blog post is actually not an assault on Maryland attorneys: he is stating a rather obvious economic argument. But if you read his articles about health care negligence lawsuits or car accident claims, you just get the impression that he really has no idea what he is talking about. This is the Baltimore Sun, not the Mayberry Times. Can’t The Sun find someone to write on these legal issues that has something north of surface knowledge?