Personal injury claims are real

March 15, 1996

AFTER READING the March 8 editorial, ''Let's lower auto insurance rates,'' I realized, now more than ever, why Baltimore needs more than one major newspaper.

Of course, most people would like to see their automobile insurance rates decline, but The Sun would have the public believe that the ''profit-hungry lawyers, doctors and insurance companies'' are in a conspiracy to prevent this.

Well, as a practicing attorney who has to deal with insurance companies every day, I can assure you that such a conspiracy theory is absurd.

Many lawyers are diametrically opposed to the insurance industry's position on issues such as the elimination of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP is a limited (usually $2,500) no-fault automobile coverage designed to help people who, for example, do not have health insurance, to pay for medical treatment following an automobile accident.

In my legal experience, I know of no insurance companies that have ever paid out on ''non-verifiable 'soft-tissue injuries.' '' If the injury cannot be medically verified, the insurance company legally can, and does, choose to refuse payment under PIP.

If there exists any windfall in the payment of PIP benefits, it rightfully should go to the consumer who pays a separate premium for such benefits, not to the tort-feasor who caused the accident as The Sun suggests in its reference to ''eliminating duplicative coverage."

Finally, if a Maryland lawyer shares a legal fee with a ''runner'' hired to solicit accident victims, that lawyer is guilty of violating the Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct, and could (and should) have his or her license to practice law revoked.

Neil J. Bixler

Baltimore

Pub Date: 3/15/96

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