Friday, January 21

Silje was run over – now the Consumer Council demands full clean-up

Silje Bengtson survived the “Sleipner” shipwreck and is today 100 percent disabled. She is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder after the accident, but does not receive compensation from the insurance company Skuld, even though an expert report states that there is a clear causal connection.

Bengtson and many others face the wall when they try to get compensation from the insurance companies.

FIGHT AGAINST THE SUPERVISION: Silje Bengtson is 100 percent disabled due to the Sleipner accident, but the insurance company Skuld will not give her compensation. Photo: Robert Reinlund / TV 2

Promises the “Silje case” to the Storting

– The Consumer Council believes that the Storting must strengthen legal certainty for injured parties who are in conflict with insurance companies, says Jorge Jensen, director of the Consumer Council.

He has a clear message for TV 2: The Consumer Council will take up Silje’s case with representatives in the Storting, Jensen states.

These days, the Storting is to consider a new insurance contract law, and Jensen believes it is required that politicians know their visiting hours. Jensen believes that current legislation does not protect vulnerable policyholders well enough in the face of resourceful insurance companies that act critically.

LAW MUST BE REVISED: Jorge Jensen, Director of the Consumer Council, believes that the Insurance Contracts Act must give consumers better protection.  Photo: Magnus Nøkland / TV 2

LAW MUST BE REVISED: Jorge Jensen, Director of the Consumer Council, believes that the Insurance Contracts Act must give consumers better protection. Photo: Magnus Nøkland / TV 2

– What we want with the upcoming legislative work is to raise the protection of consumers in personal insurance cases, Jensen says.

– Needs renewal

– This is the first time Silje, who is struggling with a post-traumatic stress disorder, is thrown into a conflict against a resourceful insurance company that has a lot of experience and resources. Then the balance of power is given, Jensen explains.

SUPPORTS SILJE: Based on the knowledge of the Consumer Council, the director believes that Silje Bengtson's case illustrates some of the problems consumers face in this type of insurance case.  Photo: Robert Reinlund / TV 2

SUPPORTS SILJE: Based on the knowledge of the Consumer Council, the director believes that Silje Bengtson’s case illustrates some of the problems consumers face in this type of insurance case. Photo: Robert Reinlund / TV 2

The Consumer Council believes that the current provisions and the way they handle personal insurance cases do not take into account that the insured are often in a vulnerable situation.

We need a renewal of the Insurance Contracts Act, which means that vulnerable consumers are taken into account, the Consumer Council believes.

– This means, among other things, that the companies must contribute to better informing the cases. And we must have deadlines that take into account that we are facing vulnerable consumers, Jensen explains.

In the case of Silje Bengtson, she has spent two years obtaining all the documents the company has requested. Nevertheless, she feels that she is met with silence and opposition from Skuld.

COUNTERPARTY: The insurance company Skuld will not comment on the case or answer questions and points out that the case will be heard in court.  Photo: Per Haugen / TV 2

COUNTERPARTY: The insurance company Skuld will not comment on the case or answer questions and points out that the case will be heard in court. Photo: Per Haugen / TV 2

Too expensive with trial

– In my opinion, the biggest problem is that there are too poor legal security alternatives in Norway in cases where one does not reach an agreement with an insurance company, says law professor Mange Strandberg at UiB.

EXPENSIVE COURTS: Law professor Many Strandberg believe that many can not afford to take the case to court.  Photo: UiB

EXPENSIVE COURTS: Law professor Many Strandberg believe that many can not afford to take the case to court. Photo: UiB

In the event of a disagreement between the injured party and the insurance company, the injured party in many cases has only two options: either to bring the case to court in the hope of winning, or one must give in or possibly approve what the company presents as a solution.

This is a problem of legal certainty, Strandberg believes.

– The biggest problem is that in many cases you are forced to go to court with the case, and that court proceedings are so expensive that most people either can not afford it or will not be able to afford it, says Strandberg

If you are going to take a case for damages to the court, you are in practice dependent on having a lawyer, and preferably a lawyer who specializes in that type of case, the professor believes.

– The lawyer must basically pay for yourself. The public sector will in some cases be able to cover costs for a lawyer, but only based on a means test and with income limits that are so low that the vast majority do not receive coverage, Strandberg explains.

In some cases, you can also get coverage under an insurance contract, but often the coverage is considerably lower than what is needed to conduct a lawsuit.

Silje Bengtson fought for an hour for her life in several meter high waves after the speedboat Sleipner grounded and sank one November evening in 1999.

MS «SLEIPNER»: The vessel sailed between Stavanger and Bergen and was in its time among the most modern vessels of its kind.  Due to a series of watertight bulkheads, the vessel should not be able to sink.  Photo: Harald Sætre

MS «SLEIPNER»: The vessel sailed between Stavanger and Bergen and was in its time among the most modern vessels of its kind. Due to a series of watertight bulkheads, the vessel should not be able to sink. Photo: Harald Sætre

A total of 16 people died this evening. After the accident, Silje has struggled for many years and an expert report states that she has suffered from PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder due to the accident.

CAUSE: Despite an expert report which states that the health condition of Silje Bengtson, who is currently disabled, is due to the Sleipner accident.

CAUSE: Despite an expert report which states that the health condition of Silje Bengtson, who is currently disabled, is due to the Sleipner accident.

Poor legal certainty

In the event of a disagreement between the policyholder and the company, the law professor believes that the current scheme favors the resourceful insurance companies.

– We have to get a change in this because the regulations that exist today are not good enough, agrees department head Jorge Jensen in the Consumer Council.

Law professor Strandberg believes that the injured party is dependent on highly qualified lawyers to reach the court.

– I would also say it about taking a case like this to the Financial Complaints Board as well, Jensen says and points to the “Silje case”.

– One must take into account that people who are exposed to personal injuries have had their lives turned upside down, while the insurance companies are the ones who set the terms by being the ones who write the contracts and have control over both case law and routines and regulations, Jensen explains.

SKULD:

SKULD: “We always seek to obtain a correct compensation settlement, in accordance with applicable laws and good practice at all times”, Skuld states in an email to TV 2. Photo: Per Haugen / TV 2

Guilt is now sued in court. The company does not want to answer questions from TV 2 or ask for an interview.

“We always seek to achieve a correct compensation settlement, in accordance with applicable laws and good practice at all times,” Skuld states in an email to TV 2.

“With regard to the summons that has now been submitted to Hordaland District Court, we have full confidence that the court and the court-appointed experts will contribute to a thorough information and assessment of this case. Throughout this process, Skuld will cooperate fully with all parties involved. “

“Beyond this, Skuld does not want to comment on individual cases that are to be dealt with in the judiciary, and especially not cases like this where strong privacy considerations apply.”

Reference-www.tv2.no

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