A more equitable way to pay for accidents

An editorial from the Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In a bipartisan 75-24 vote, the West Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday passed a bill that would change the way damages are allocated in cases where multiple parties are found to be at fault.

It’s a long overdue change and an important part of the new Republican majority’s push for legal reform. The GOP made such reforms a centerpiece of its platform in November. Now it’s delivering.

Under current state law, individuals and companies can be forced to pay 100 percent of the costs of an accident, even when another person or company is judged to bear most of the blame for causing it.

That’s contrary to most people’s sense of fairness. It sets up a system where the party with the deepest pockets gets stuck with the whole bill, regardless of fault.

The current law also creates a host of bad incentives — not only for plaintiffs’ lawyers, but also for judges and juries.

 People who defend the existing system say that it makes sense to put the financial burden for accidents on the businesses who can best afford it.

But the problem with targeting deep pockets, time after time, year after year, is that eventually the deep pockets become less deep. Or they decide that they’ve had enough…

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