According to the Washington Post, federal lawmakers will be mulling a series of legislative actions that could upend protections for plaintiffs in civil injury, malpractice and consumer rights claims.
These proposals, which some legislators believe are necessary to stop frivolous lawsuits and drive down healthcare costs, could make it much more difficult for victims to effectively use the system designed to allow them to right wrongs and recover compensation for harm endured.
The civil justice system is one of the only places wherein "the little guy" can enjoy a level playing field against deep-pocketed companies, doctors and others in positions of power and wealth. With the help of an experienced attorney, plaintiffs in injury and malpractice cases can hold wrongdoers accountable and attain fair compensation. The proposed reforms seek to undercut these protections and make it more difficult for those with meritorious cases to successfully pursue a claim.
Tort Reforms Could Undermine Consumer Protections
The court system provides the best remedy for many victims who suffer damages because of things like defective products or irresponsible doctors. It is vital that victims are able to make civil claims so they can be "made whole" when something has harmed them.
The tort reform proposals put forth by some lawmakers would make the civil justice system much less effective in protecting consumers. The reforms would change the way claims are filed, making it harder for many types of cases to get to court. The reforms would also impact compensation for victims who have been harmed by wrongdoing.
One change would involve the ability of federal officials to settle claims and to provide money to third parties who can distribute it to help those who have been harmed. Lawmakers who are pro-tort reform believe this practice is funneling money to third-party groups. They want to put an end to settlement slush funds by restricting money given to third parties.
Lawmakers also want to restrict the compensation available to plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases by putting a limit on the amount of non-economic damages a victim can recover when a doctor commits medical malpractice. This damage cap would arbitrarily restrict the rights of malpractice victims to obtain more than $250,000 in compensation for non-economic damages. This would mean even if a jury that has heard all the evidence concluded a victim deserved compensation beyond that $250,000 for the pain and emotional distress resulting from the doctor's wrongdoing, they would not be able to award it.
Another proposal would impose sanctions on attorneys for filing frivolous claims, making lawyers much less likely to take on certain types of cases, including civil rights claims. Yet another bill would alter the way federal class actions are certified would make it more difficult to make a class action claim.
All of these "reforms" will undoubtedly undermine the faith in and effectiveness of the civil justice system. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are committed to fighting for the rights of those who have been injured or wronged due to the negligence of another.