You may have heard that litigation is driving up the cost of virtually everything, and harming economic growth in the process. That is a myth. Proponents of tort reform allege that limiting the amount of money a jury can award a plaintiff in a civil suit will end frivolous lawsuits, reduce court costs and lower consumer prices for health care, insurance and various products. What tort reform proponents do not mention is the fact that tort reform will actually hurt the little guy, and benefit big companies. Contact a Nationwide Injury Lawyer Today.
What is Tort Reform?
Tort reform refers to a movement to restrict the amount of money an injured party may receive in a lawsuit. According to tort reform advocates, enacting reform laws at the federal level would help unfetter regulations holding back businesses. Tort reform advocates have three basic goals:
- Limiting an injured person’s right to sue
- Limiting an injured person’s right to a jury trial
- Limiting the amount of money an injured person may receive in a civil lawsuit.
Tort Reform Lies
The drive toward these reforms is based on false information. Americans for Insurance Reform, a coalition made up of approximately 100 public interest and consumer organizations, and the insurance industry’s consulting firm, Towers Perrin, have repeatedly issued studies containing “highly unreliable and completely inappropriate” figures for U.S. tort system evaluation. These studies have been debunked by academics, consumer organizations, and business journalists.
A Matter of Dollars and Cents
In business, money is always the bottom line. In a fiercely competitive, cutthroat atmosphere, fear of litigation may prove the only thing preventing some corporations from marketing products they know are harmful or dangerous. Take away the incentive to keep consumer health and safety in mind, and loss of life and serious injuries are just part of the cost of doing business. Consider the constant headlines about corporate malfeasance and defective or carcinogenic products. These situations are occurring while injured parties still have strong legal recourse. It’s not hard to imagine what corporations would try to get away with if there was no fear of litigation costing them millions of dollars. Tort reform would prove a disaster for injured individuals and a boon for unscrupulous corporate entities.
Health Care Costs
According to recent papers co-authored by David Hyman – the H. Ross and Helen Workman Chair in law as well as a professor of medicine at the University of Illinois – there is little evidence to support tort reform advocate claims that noneconomic damage caps would control health care costs. Hyman and his co-authors studied results in nine states adopting tort reform between 2002 and 2005, including his home state of Illinois. They found damage caps did not affect hospital spending, but did increase physician services spending. Hyman concludes that tort reform will not save a lot of money regarding health care costs, and may actually increase costs.
Statute of Limitations
Proponents of these changes have put statutes of limitations in place for filing medical malpractice claims. If such claims are not filed within two years from the date of injury, the individual loses the right to sue. Many conditions resulting from malpractice do not surface until after that arbitrary date, leaving the injured person without legal recourse.
How Tort Reform Could Affect You – Contact the Goldwater Law Firm
Tort reform could severely limit your right to sue in case of serious injury or death. If you’ve been injured in any type of accident, we can help. Contact the Goldwater Law Firm for a free consultation today.