When a car accident involving an attractive young girl, insurance policy regulations, legal issues and her famous comedian brother’s acerbic response all combine, it can create a sensational social media backlash. The events have hit many major news outlets and have shown the power that social media can have when confronted with a sensational story.
Because this case is so tangled and convoluted, here are the facts:
The part of the story that caused so much anger was the fact that lawyers for Progressive advised and helped to defend the driver of the other car — who her brother refers to as Fisher’s killer — in court. However, this was only the case because she had held underinsured motorist coverage. In states where fault is decided in court, the insurance company is legally obligated to pay for damages proven to have been caused by the underinsured driver. Progressive was fulfilling its legal obligations.
While Progressive’s responses have been robotic and impersonal in the way that only large corporations can manage, there is no clear indication that the company has behaved outside of the spectrum of the law. At worst, the company responded terribly to a PR crisis, especially when they attempted to deny that they had even sent a lawyer to build a defense for the other driver.
Luckily for the Fishers, they had their own lawyer to protect their rights against the corporate attorneys whose mission was to paint Kaitlynn Fisher as the person responsible for her death. The Fishers’ lawyer successfully defended Kaithlynn’s memory, which is just as good for the lawyer as for the Fishers; cases like this one have the ability to catapult an attorney’s career to the next level. The law firm of LeViness, Tolzman and Hamilton handles complicated auto accident and wrongful death cases like this on a regular basis, as do many other personal injury firms.
Perhaps the most important takeaway is that social media tends to preclude a more thoughtful, measured response. Social media is naturally anarchic and individualistic, and the stories that get the most traction are those where “the little guy” has to stand up to the “big machine.” The death of Kaitlynn Fisher was a tragic event, and when tragedy mixes with social media, anger is seen as a stronger emotion than confusion, despite the fact that we may be angry about things we don’t fully understand.
What should we take away from this event? Perhaps laws regarding underinsured motorist coverage need to change. Perhaps the legal obligations associated with this type of coverage should rest solely with the defendant. However, these nuanced issues are less exciting than the story of a famous comedian sharing his outrage over his sister’s insurance company representing the driver of the car that killed her, so it is not likely that they will be discussed in the Twitterverse any time soon.