Tort Reform is something that not many people know about, but can affect them in a personal injury lawsuit and has even led people to question whether or not their injuries are worth bringing a lawsuit over. This is an idea that could potentially reduce the amount of compensation someone can receive in a lawsuit for personal injury and many times, more specifically, medical malpractice. However, tort reform has contributed to the idea that people will file lawsuits for any injury, no matter how small, just to make money.
Tort Reform: What Is it and What is its History?
A good definition of tort reform is changes that have been made to the civil justice system and laws that have been put in place that reduce a person’s ability to file lawsuits or reduces the amount that a person can recover from a lawsuit. Tort Reform began in the 1970s and was pushed by insurance companies and large corporations as a way to reduce the money that they would have to pay in any trial. The basic gist of tort reform is that in many states, laws have been added by the legislatures that cap damages awards at a certain amount, thereby limiting what a person can get in a lawsuit. In many states this applies to medical malpractice, however some states limit punitive damages in general personal injury cases to two or three times the amount of actual compensatory damages.
The first state to implement a law regarding caps on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits was Indiana, in 1975. According to insurance companies and large corporations, there are several reasons that caps on medical malpractice damages should be instituted. The first reason is that by limiting damages on medical malpractice cases, medical procedures will cost less, and the quality of the procedures will be higher than it would be if damages were not capped. Another argument that is made is that if damages are not capped, people will sue for everything, and this will drive competent medical providers away to states where damages are capped.
Why Some People May Think Suing for Damages Is not the Right Thing to Do
Many people see filing a lawsuit after any injury as something that could make them “lawsuit happy” or just a way to make a quick buck from an insurance company or other party that has injured them. Why is this?
Everyone has heard of the McDonald’s coffee case. It has been paraded time and time again as “the frivolous lawsuit”, and it has been said that the woman who spilled coffee in her lap was awarded a sum far too high (millions) for what her actual injuries were. People have said that the woman was not careful when attempting to put cream and sugar in her cup, and that her injuries were in fact her fault. However, everyone gets these claims wrong. AS a matter off fact, most people don’t realize that the Judge reduced the award from “Millions” or over $4 Million like the insurance companies claim to only a few hundred thousand. Then the parties struck a confidential settlement for much less out of court.
While many people assume that the McDonald’s coffee case was a frivolous lawsuit, the company actually had over 700 prior claims similar to this one. The woman in this case suffered serious third degree burns and had to receive skin grafts as a result of her injuries. This lawsuit was not frivolous but has been interpreted as so and used to show “The American Way” of initiating a lawsuit “just to gain money”.
If You Have Been Injured, Filing a Lawsuit is a Way to Get What you Deserve
In the past, insurance companies would assess risks, and insure a person based on those risks. They would treat individuals fairly and compensate them fairly in the event that they were injured and sought medical attention. Now, insurance companies promote things like tort reform, and attempt to limit people from recovering damages or paying their medical bills after they have been injured. Filing a lawsuit does not make a person “lawsuit happy”. It is a way to ensure they are treated fairly and get the compensation they deserve. People purchase insurance to protect themselves and their property in the event that they are injured, or their property is damaged.
When insurance companies do not pay for medical bills or property damage, a lawsuit may be the only way to get that money back, to be able to pay medical bills and just be treated fairly. This again, does not make a lawsuit frivolous, or a person “lawsuit happy”. It holds insurance companies accountable and allows for fair and equitable treatment.
A person should not be dissuaded from filing a claim because of tort reform, and insurance companies and big businesses saying it will raise rates or lead to a decline in quality of healthcare has never been substantiated. These are just claims made by insurance companies and other corporations in an attempt to reduce claims and dissuade people from being “lawsuit happy”.
People buy insurance in the event that they are injured, or their property is damaged. They do not have insurance to file frivolous claims. And if a big company injures you in some way, or causes damage to your property, they should compensate you.
What Should I Do if I Have A Potential Claim?
Looking for a personal injury lawyer following a truck, car, or motorcycle accident? Contact the Indianapolis Car Accident Lawyers at Hurst Limontes LLC today for your free consultation.