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February 10, 1961     The Observer
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February 10, 1961
 

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PAGE 12 THEOLOGY FOR EVERY MAN THE OBSERVER FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1961 O i @ S The ]allowing commentary was prepared at SL John's Semi- nary, Brighton, Mass. It is reprinted from the Boston Pilot. This is the time of year when auto-insurance policies are re- newed. It is also. with winter driving conditions at their worst, a prn-ae time for accidents. In answer to a number of questions from readers. Theology for Everyman this week considers the moral policies involved in auto- mobile insurance. Q. Does an automobile owner have a moral obligation to buy insurance for the protection of other persons whom he may injure? A. The obhgation of'buying auto insurance is secondary in rela- tion of the obligation of affording protection against danger to the life and property of others necessarily involved in the operation of motor vehicles. The first question to be answered, therefor:e, is whether or not those vcho drive motor" vehicles are morally re- sponsible for damages which may result from their driving. In approaching this question, we should note first of all that a person is morally responsible only for damages that he causes through his own fault. On the other hand, the principles of moral theology present and defend the concept of juridical responsibility, which may or may not coincide with moral guilt. In other words~, a person may sometimes be held legally responsible for damage in circumstances in which the law attributes the damag~e to him, and requires him to make restitution for it, regardless of whether or not he was blameworthy in causing the damage. APPLYING THIS PRINCIPLE TO THE QUESTION ~ damage surance is the only means by which they can be responsible for the danger of accidents which the operation of motor vehicles necessarily creates. IN PRACTICE, THEREFORE, WE ARE FORCED to the con- clusion that those who exercise the right to drive which is granted to them by the state are bound to protect themselves and other possible victims of accidents by buying insurance. And sinc~ the authority of the state is competent to determine the conditions under which motor vehicles may operate, state legislation may indicate to the extent to which insurance protection must be pro- vided against the dangers of highway accidents. Existing state laws in this matter must be presumed to be rea- sonable in the absence of conclusive arguments which would indi- cate the contrary. Hence it would seem that the obligation of insurance against accidents, as it is imposed by the laws of the state, is a matter of conscience and that serious sin Would be com- mitted by those who disregard it. There is question here not of state ordinances which look immediately to the preservation of public order, but of application by the authority of the state of the provisions of the moral law which deals with the fulfillment of obligations of justice. Q. WOuld this obligation be the same for careful drivers as for because of faulty brakes would be doing wrong if he were to affix a pre-dated inspection sticker on his car which would create the impression that the condition of his brakes had nothing to do with the accident. Again, a person who would collide with another car would be morally guilty in placing his car in a position which would lead to the conclusion that the other party had been com- pletely responsible for the accident, Q. If the victim af an accident receives several varying esi- mates of damage, may he submit the most expensive estimate to the insurance company? A. If the more expensive estimate has been compiled dishon- estly, it will be morally wrong to submit it. For example, if a given concern has submitted a high estimate precisely in the hope of getting the job, and of subsequently making a rebate to the customer, there would be obvious fraud for which the participants would be morally guilty. On the other hand, if the estimates are made honesty by reputable companies, it is not morally wrong to submit the highest figure to the insurance company. The obligation of the insurance company is to pay for the dam- age done according to the estimates of responsible and compe- tent repair agencies ~ those who have been involved in several accidents? The customer is bound to protect the insurance company against A.'It is true that there are great differences between careful fraud, and to avoid becoming implicated in' fraudulent over-esti- drivers and those who have been involved in accidents. It is none marion. He is not bound,-however, to make extraordinary efforts. the less true, however, that X~o degree of caution can eliminate to find the lowest bidder, or to submit an estimate which is pre- sumably honest to over-critical evaluation. Nor is one who is pro- completely the danger of accidents. And While state authorities, tected by accident insurance bound to present to the insurance in determining insurance rates, must make reasonable efforts to caused by the drivers of motor vehicles, moral theologians recog- discriminate between careful drivers and those whose driving nize the right of the state to determine the conditions under which records manifest carelessness that is at least juridically blame- drivers of motor vehicles must be held responsible for the life and worthy, it is impossible for any scale of insurance rates to take property of other drivers, and of pedestrians and property owners fully into account the individual differences among motorists. To who may suffer damage in which they may have been involved, a great extent those who are careful must share in the responsi- Motorists thus agree implicitly, 'in accepting their licenses to own bility of those who are careless and irresponsible. This is one of and operate motor vehicles, to assume responsibility according to the inevitable consequences of our necessary association and the prowsions of law. for the damages which others may sustain solidarity with others in human society. The law must make pro- by reason of accidents in which they have figured, visions for apprehending and punishing those who are guilty of gross and culpable negligence, particularly if they have been The contract of accident insurance is entered into by motorists driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. The rates as a means of discharging the obligations of restitution which the as they stand, however, must be accepted by all to whom they law imposes upon them when they become involved in an acci- apply. No individual can claim exemption from the law which dent. It may be reasonably assumed that motorist s as a general demands the purchasing of insurance by reason of his past record rule are unable to meet these obligations personally, and that in- of careful driving. Q. Is the guilty party in an accident morally bound to volunteer evidence which may deprive him of insurance payments? A. In answering this question we must bear ifi mind the dis- tinction between one who is morally guilty of careless or danger- ous driving, and one who has been involved in an accident despite the fact that he has taken all ordinary precautions and endeav- ored honestly to drive safely. A person who knowingly drives in a condition of intoxication which he knows to be dangerous is mor- ally guilty of any damage which may result from his careless or dangerous driving. Insurance companies are within their rights in challenging the claims of those who fail culpably to observe the* ordinary precautions against accidents. SHH! QUIET PLEASE -- Hooded in white, Sister Dimitria raises finger to lips to ask for silence as she stands in front of a picturesque eandleahra in Rome. She was attending a ceremony at the North American College. An American, Sister Dimitria belongs to an order doing missionary work in Africa. (NC Photos) The Place To Go For Brands You Know Men's and Boys' if'ear ] Phone 3111 Mt. Carroll CAPPS CLOTHES--FREEMAN SHOES MUNSINGWEAR--ARROW OSHKOSH--BIG SMITH . . . and Many More Mount Clare College Clinton, Iowa CATHOLIC COLLEGE TaR WOMEN Now Offers Progressive New Concepts in Two-Year College Planning Excellent Curriculum U. S. 30--85 Miles West of Rockford @ Highly geared foundation program for the degree ~eeker a Well rounded #ur',ey program tar the two-year ttudeal Purchase Program For Everyone! Pagel,s Rental Purchase Plan Pagel s FHA New Home Plan Pagel's Trade In Plan "R Pagel's 10% Down Plan Pagel's Work Credit Plan Almost Anyone Can Buy a Home New Homes and Apartments Now Available to Compare! Construction Co. 536 Windsor Rd, Rockford, IlL It would be difficult to say that a person loses his right to his msurance indemnity by the mere fact that he has been morally guilty in not taking ordinary and reasonable precautions against accidents. Nevertheless a person has no right to complain if, in such circumstances, the courts pass judgment in favor of his msurance company which has sought to void payment of his claim and to compel him to assume personal responsibility before the law for the damage which he has caused ON THE OTHER HAND, A PERSON WHO has not been guilty of carelessness in relation to an accident in which he has been involved has the right to claim full indemnity according to the terms of his contract of insurance. It is precisely because of the danger of accidents, that he seeks to be insured, and the contract of insurance is offered to him with the understanding that acci- dents are likely to occur for which he must assume legal respon- sibihty. If his claim for indemnity is brought to court by his in- surance company, he is merely bound to answer truthfully and without evasion all questions reasonably proposed to him relating to the accident by those legally authorized to interrogate him. He is not bound to volunteer evidence which may be harmful to his cause, but he may not resort to deceitful or fraudulent means of concealing guch evidence from those who are legally bound or permitted to look for it. Thus a person who has had an accident company would be paying for and an inferior job that would leave the car in less than first-class condition. Again, it would be wrong for a person whose car had been damaged in an accident, and who had pocketed the difference between a first-class and an inferior repair job to present the first-class estimate to a prospective buy- er of his car as evidence that the car had been fully repaired after the accident. In other words, a person who has received ~nsurance compensa- tion for damages done his car may thenceforth make any disposi- tion he wishes of the money he has received provided he does not interfere with the rights of any one else. He should ask himself, therefore, whether or not the compensation he has received may be regarded as entirely for his own benefit. If it is, he may use it as he pleases. If he must use his car for the benefit of some one else, and the insurance money is necessary to put the car into usable condition, he should not divert it to other purposes. Q. When a car has been in an accident, is it allowable, in mak- ing the report to the insurance company, to include other items of repair which needed attention even independently of the acci- dent? A.'~t is clearly wrong to report as connected with an ace any defect which existed prior to the accident and whichhad Call TR 7'7804 Today Income, and Positions Available to Men and Women New Start 13 Good positions in offices await business-trained young men and women. Nationally, business schools ore receiving five calls for every young woman graduate; three for each young non. * Degree Courses Accounting and Finance Executive Secretarial Administrative Secretarial Medical Secretarial Business Management Legal Secretarial Soles Management The Rockford School of Business is approved by the Illinois Board of Accountancy which enables graduates of the two-year Accounting and Finance Course to take the C.P.A. Examina- tion. * Diploma Courses ing to do with the accident. company a figure which would be based on an inferior job rather than one which would be based on first-class workmanship and material. Q. Is the victim required to spend the entire amount of damage compensation on repairs? May he obtain an estimate from a shop that charges high prices and have the work done at another shop with a lower rate? May he use second-hand parts, rather than new parts, in the repair work, and keep the balance of the insurance compensation? May he collect money for damages to his car and not spend the money for repairs when the damages do not affect the functioning of the car? A. All these questions deal with related problems. They will all be answered under the supposition that the estimates of the dam- age done will be honestly arrived at, in accordance with what has been said above. When an insurance claim for repairs necessitated by an acci- dent has been legitimately presented and paid. the terms of the contract have been fulfilled and. as a genoral rule, there are no further obligations toward the insurance company on the part of the insured. He is at liberty to have the repairs made or not. made partially or in full, as he sees fit. He may use second-hand parts instead of new parts; he may leave unrepaired defects which do not interfere with the functioning of his car. These principles would not apply, of course, to one who would be acting as agent for another, and who would propose to keep for himself the difference between the repair job that the insurance On the other hand. if a defective part has actually been dam- aged in the accident, it is not wrong to expect that compensation will be sufficient to provide replacement that will make the car usable. It may be presumed that insurance adjustors have suffi- cient experience to enable them to estimate with a fair degree of accuracy the relation between the damage done and the age of the car. Prowided no deceitful statements are made in the report of the accident, one may in good conscience accept the estimate made by a reliable repair agency, even though it may seem to include repairs beyond those which the accident made immediate- ly necessary. It is difficult to determine precisely in the case of a car which has been driven several thousands of miles just how much dam- age has been caused by the accident. The most favorable estimate may be presented, provided it has not been arrived at by deceit or by fraudulent collusion. Q. May a person who had made deceitful statements in an insur- ance report accept or retain the compensation which he has received? A. It is difficult to answer this question because individual cases are so different one from another. It is always wrong to make deceitful statements, and any deceitful statement which is imme- diately effective in procuring a settlement which would not other- wise have been offered will constitute a violation of justice for which restitution must be made. Those who have problems of this kind should consult with a competent confessor, who will consider all the circumstances of the case and bring into apphcation all the principles of moral theology which have relation to it. When a priest undertakes to give the answer to a difficulty such as this, he has a serious responsibility to safeguard both the rights of the penitent and the rights of those who may have suffered through the penitent's act of injustice Fireplace -- porch --- fenced yard & two car garage are bonus fea- tures in this large five room bungalow. North of Auburn on the bus line. $15,200 price re- quires o n l y $2,000 ,down. Call Ted Ingras- sia (Eves. or Sun WO 8-4400. DON'T WAIT UNTIL IT'S TOO LATE Top Loves Perk Location--real sharp---2 bedroom ranch home, Breezeway Patio. attached gar- age, washer and aryer, stove, low down oayment---easy terms. Broadway and 9th St. Area -- Beautiful older house, all re- modeled, new alum. siding and stone "front, awnings, cOrpeting, drapes. 2-car garage. Easy terms. River Pork Drive --- 2 Bedroom with large family room. 30x26 ~arage, nuce lot all fenced in. asy terms. Off Charles St. Rd.--2V2 acres. 4 room expandable home, breeze way, attached garage, sharp basement wpth rec. roam. stable ~under $20.000.00. S or ames, sites in $ HOME SEEKERS Looking for "Red Carpet" service? We offer it, with fullest consideration for your welfore security and comfort. You'll be many years paying for your new home, so let us advise you on the better buys available. No obligatio~we con- sider it a favor. May We Serve You? Please Call Us. WE OFFER THE FINEST SELECTION OF HOMES IN THE PARISH OF YOUR CHOICE--- BOB' REALTY WO 8-5791 123 7TH ST. II DOWNTOWN ROCKFORD RENTAL Excellent Business Corner -- 90% Location Approx. 3000 Ft. Incl. Basement Immed. Occupancy--Large Window Display Space Lots in CAMPUS HILLS SubdiVision now available -- Located west of North Main Street entering Campus Drive to new Boylan high school. All lots fully improved to in. dude sewer, water, gas, street curbs and gutters. Call us now, ~' ZIENER AGENCY Rockford Trust Bldg. WO 5-8781 Eves. WO 2-3813 (On Owen Center Road one mile North of Hoisted) ST, BERNADETTE'S PARISH A well balanced community of homes valued from $25,000 to $50,000. Half acre or larger, H0meqites ~)riced from $2,750 and up many wooded. Club plan with swimming pool, club house. ]0 acres of parks among oak and hickorvs. St. Berna- de*te's school car OOOl. CARRICO & WILGUS, Inc. NEWS TOWER wa 4-7829 A HOME IS OF DIVINE ORIGIN. A PERFECT SHELTER FOR THE FAMILY. Luxurious and Spacious ST. PETER'S PARISH--- 2212 Harlem Blvd.--4 Bedrooms 2V2 bathroom, recreation area. Attached garage. A visit to th s lovely home" would whet your appetite. 5 Acres of land--About 19 nice homesites. Near proposed Poro- ch~aJ school--$30,O00.O0 Rent with Option to buy -- 2 bedroom home in suburban o- cation--See It now. rl Junior Accounting Secretarial Stenographic We handle rentals of apart- ments, homes, commercial, in. *Special Courses RICHARDS 0 dustr,o N Very Choice Lots Conveniently Located In Howard Jehnse. EX ' 3771 - I Donn And Speedwrlting Shorthand and Typing iil N r erson WO 5-'191R ea ly Every Parish In Rockford. We Will R Browa WO B-0408 Beginning Gregg Shorthnnd Court Reporting i!iiiii[|,WO 5-096*4 J Build a Home Tailored Just For You I RUSSELL F BROWN Advanced Gregg Shorthand IBM Key Punch and Typing i~i~!::~:i::::i I I&JO uroaawoy [ ' I " Comptometer, Burroughs and Friden Calculators end Typing l~i MontleSmth WQ 3-5626 l/4S~g gk=g A --KI AGENCY :~i:'~ Dale Burton WO 1-6650 ill Re ~ii~ i ' ckford Trust Bldg. You will enjoy these advantages: !~!i;llJJimm, W:l~drdsen TR ::~:2; [ JUrlN I"IAU~I~ I *"'~" Over 750 students enrolled ~ Free lifetime placement service Lower trnlning cost YES IT IS EASY JACKSON- KEYE AGENC, INC. I DA, d EV,NING o,SSES I It iS easy to fnd a buyer, but to find the right one to M RT A E i. It' detern~ine a fair price, to set up proper terms, to be f'ully . O G G S LOANS ~[l protected against unscrupulous buyers and to know when to, ' LOAN CORRESPOND ~ ENT FOR AI~-CONDITIoNED CLASSROOMS, modern equipment, 4riend- i @ll sell require sound real' estate knowledge. That is Why you I~ students," understanding teachers, free placement service, i~IlllshouM 'call St. Angel when you ore thinking of selling MI=/KUPUI.I/AIN LIFE INSURANC;E Office open doily, including S,turdoy from 8 m. to 5:00 p.m. has CO. Phone WO 4-9459 Rockford or return coupon for informotlon. ~/~i~ u es, apartments, commercml property or your busmess. MODERATE INTEREST RATES II umm m t m m mm mm mm m mm m tram m LONG TERM WOodland 3-9646 Yes, send information regarding your courses of study and the opportunitie| offered in Business. Name Phone Street or Route City State 319 W. Jefferson St. Rockford, III. Realtors WO" B-9B05 Mabel Haynes Evenings WO 4-$413 EAST When you inspect this handsome BRICK ranch home, set well back on a large tree-shaded lot, you will see how pleasant living can be! There is a gracious entrance holl--- o picturesque dining room--sp'acious kitchen--several baths --family room---and loads ,of built-in features in this pleasant 7-room home. It's just a few years old and ~riced under $30,000--well be'iow the original east--why not coil now for your appointment? RALPH Me PICKEN Realtor Dial WO 3-4828 WO 9-9459 325 EAST STATE STREET ROCKFORD These reputable Rock]ord Real. tars oiler our Catholic readers in the Diocese, the ]inest selec. tion o[ homes and homesites in Ro~k]ord~ parishes. They are ready to give yoti hottest, per. sonal service. Call them to as. sist you in buying or selling.