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P&C Claims Roundup –
Outcomes to Watch

Don’t be taken by surprise. When it comes to managing your risks, it pays to keep up with claims trends. Here’s what’s happening in P&C claims cases and trends now.

Bankruptcy Follows Nuclear Verdict

Property Casualty 360 says that social inflation is driving commercial auto costs. A study from the Insurance Information Institute and the Casualty Actuarial Society found that social inflation increased commercial auto liability claim payouts by $20 billion between 2010 and 2019.

In some cases, a single nuclear verdict can destroy a company. FreightWaves says that an Illinois trucking company filed for bankruptcy largely because of a $10 verdict stemming from a fatal crash.

Juul Accused of Targeting Teens

Juul Labs, an e-cigarette company, has been accused of targeting teens. According to TIME, a 2019 study found that 27.5% of high school students and 10.5% of middle school students said they had used e-cigarettes in the last month, prompting new regulations.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed. According to Reuters, Juul will pay $14.5 million to settle an Arizona lawsuit in 2021 over claims that the company targeted youths. In April 2022, Seattle Times says that Juul will pay $22.5 million to settle a similar lawsuit in Washington.

Product Liability Claims Transform into Public Nuisance Claims

When is a product liability claim not a product liability claim? When it’s presented as a public nuisance action. A 2020 article from the National Law Review described a litigation trend that transformed what would normally be product liability claims into public nuisance claims. This trend has continued – according to a recent commentary from Jones Day, plaintiffs have been repackaging product liability claims as public nuisance claims in order to get around product liability law restrictions.

However, Jones Day recently succeeding in convincing a court to reject a public nuisance claim disguised as a product liability claim, and this may be representative of an emerging trend in which courts have been limiting nuisance liability to more traditional limits.

Social Media Accused of Wrongful Death

Can a social media platform be held legally responsible for content that contributes to someone’s death? According to NBC News, the mother of a 10-year-old girl alleged to have died after participating in the “Blackout Challenge” that went viral on social media is now suing TikTok for wrongful death. The lawsuit claims that TikTok and its parent company are guilty of negligence and defective design because the platform’s algorithm automatically suggests videos that can expose children to dangerous content.

According to Fortune, this is not the first time a social media company has been accused of wrongful death. Instagram was accused on contributing to a 16-year-old’s suicide, and Snapchat’s speedometer feature was accused of contributing to a crash that killed three young men.

Cyberattacks Prompt Lawsuits

Cyberattacks, including ransomware and social engineering schemes, have continued to cause major losses for businesses. Although the businesses hit by these attacks are the victims, they may also be held liable for their failure to prevent the attack or for their mismanagement of the response to the attack.

In one example, Top Class Actions says that Pacific Market Research has agreed to pay $250,000 in connection to a lawsuit stemming from a data breach caused by ransomware. According to BenefitsPRO, a ransomware attack on a third-party payroll and timekeeping software provider has shown how third-party cyberbreaches can result in claims, including employment liability claims.

Surfside Condo Collapse Prompts $1 Billion Settlement

A $997 million dollar settlement has been announced in the class action lawsuit filed by survivors and relatives of the victims of the Surfside condo collapse that killed 98 people. According to the Miami Herald, the nearly $1 billion settlement is the second-largest class action settlement in Florida’s history. The largest is the 1997 settlement in a case against multiple major tobacco companies. Florida’s share in that settlement was $11.3 billion.

Risky Driving Increases Liability

The NHTSA says that traffic fatalities increased 6.8% in 2020 despite a decline in driving and overall traffic crashes. According to another report from the NHTSA, traffic fatalities increased again in 2021; the number of traffic fatalities in the first nine months of 2021 was 12% higher compared to the first nine months of 2020. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that risky drivers tended to drive more during the pandemic, while safety-conscious drivers drove less.

Allowing risky drivers to get behind the wheel can cost companies. According to the Verge, Uber is being sued for $63 million over claims that the company approved a driver with a history of risky driving, contributing to a crash that left the plaintiff paralyzed.

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