Wednesday, March 25, 2015


My friend John from law school is now an insurance defense lawyer, and naturally, his poem challenge to me was to write about insurance defense.  The thing about people who work in industries related to injury and death (as we both do) is that (I think) it can be a way of trying to gain mastery over one's fears about death.  If you can put a price on something, it doesn't seem so scary.  (I mean, to most people.  It hasn't helped me, but then, my level of angst is usually resistant to coping mechanisms.)

So here is my poem about how insurance can be comforting.

Insurance Defense

Something awful could happen, you say,
but hasn't it?

English children when the plague came
made rhymes to turn their pustules
into playthings.
Like that, some of us face pain
armed with columns of equations,
hieroglyphic fences to pen
disfigurement and death.

If we were truthful
ministers of anguish,
we'd have to be more brutal.
The inflamed nerves of the world
stretch farther than rivers
and are harder to navigate at night.
The safest thing to do
is name your price.

Here is John's hilarious lawyer-impression review:

Overall this is a great attempt at exploring the theme I requested: insurance defense.  However, this poem speaks to the difficulty and reality of allegedly negligent acts, not just insurance defense.  This poem is from the Plaintiff's perspective and, by reason of that biased perspective, I believe it is misnamed.  It should be personal injury or law or something of that sort.  This poem speaks to the bottom of all personal injury law (and really most legal questions, limbs lost or not):  In the midst of pain, suffering, amazingly tragic circumstances and the issues that occur, there is the bottom line.  Obviously, the bottom line is not necessarily the exclusive purview of insurance defense.  Both sides in a case in law are concerned with money.  Of course, I think that insurance defense is the rational side of that tortious coin.   As a member of the insurance defense side of the bar, I don't in any way think of my clients as "ministers of anguish," rather "ministers of reason," but that argument is for court.  In short, the purported description of insurance defense lawyers and their clients is harsh, especially in light of the gruesome and brutish world of law, but I come from the defense perspective.  Lastly, I don't think insurance defense has anything to do with plagues as in the second stanza.  I think most commercial general liability policies would exclude that under the force majeure exclusion.   In other words, plagues aren't generally covered.  In short, a good although biased effort.  It should be noted that in no way is this review a statement or opinion of the law and is not intended as legal advice.

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