When the New York State Legislature, was sold a bill of goods in the early 1970s, they passed a no-fault law because of the numerous promises made by the insurance industry. What might have once been a good concept, has slowly been eroded into a statutory and regulatory nightmare that delivers anything but what was originally promised.
You see, in the early 1970s, the legislature was promised that all drivers and passengers of covered vehicles would never again have to worry about receiving lost wages, adequate and almost unlimited medical care (there were limits, but they were extremely generous when initially proposed) and that like a good neighbor, the people with good hands could be trusted to help us. After deconstructing a concept that sounded logical over three decades ago, we are left with an absolute mess. The bottom line is at this moment, a drunk driver could crash a tractor trailer into your car which is lawfully stopped at a red light, cause you excruciating pain and the inability to even get out of bed for 85 days, and wind up owing you nothing but the repair of your vehicle. I constantly strive for understatement when writing these articles, but the best I can do regarding this scheme of things are the words "egregious" and "unconscionable".
To make matters worse, the insurance industry has manipulated the system so that they must now only find a doctor somewhere to render an opinion that the injuries were not, in fact, caused by the subject crash. You’d be amazed at what your older medical records contain, and how easily a past comment to your Doctor about a trivial ache or pain can later be used to stick it to you. Recently, a colleague of mine, who is an excellent trial lawyer, was in the midst of a motor vehicle trial when a doctor from Long Island took the stand to "opine" that the fracture caused in the crash was actually twenty-five years old. Despite his excellence as a trial attorney, the jury believed the doctor, without regard the fact that he had never even examined the injured plaintiff, and had merely reviewed some medical records. I guess the theory we're being sold is that good treating physicians who work hard every day to help their injured patients to recover, should be second-guessed by whomever is willing to express the right opinion for the right fee. Again, the world unconscionable creeps back into my mind. To make matters even worse, a no-fault carrier can now, by the use of that same physician or others who are similarly of questionable repute, use that "expert's" report to retroactively deny treating physicians' payment for multiple visits and treatments which were rendered in good faith by that treating physician. Additionally, Doctors aren’t paid a reasonable rate for their services when they ARE approved. If that weren’t horrible enough, now the insurer you’ve been paying in good faith for years or decades, can deny your benefits with a relatively new approach. They get a doctor somewhere- anywhere- to say that although they must admit the injuries were caused by the collision, that you really won’t benefit from more treatment, therefore they are denying you payment for medical care that you and your Doctor believe to be essential. They phrase is “Maximum Medical Improvement”. So much for your paying premiums all of those years.
This has to stop. Taken to its lowest common denominator, the accounting term FIFO (first in, first out) has slowly been corrupted into FINO (forever in, never out). They just want to keep it all. I can't stand the thought that my wife, my child, your father or mother, my partner, our paralegals, or my friends are worth less than a rear bumper.