What is “Tort Reform” and Why Does it Matter?
Since the beginning of civilization, there have been businesses that provided services to the community. Since the beginning of civilization, mistakes have been made that cost people their lives or severely injured them. It fits our sense of justice to say that these injured people or the families that they leave behind should be compensated for the loss of their bodily functions or a loved one who provided economic support. However, there are those who have a business-first attitude and essentially want to impede injured parties from filing lawsuits to recover damages in negligence cases. Who is right?
Tort Reform is a Buzzword for Business First
If you believe that businesses need to be protected from greedy defendants and their lawyers who are looking for deep pockets so that they can get rich quick, you likely believe in tort reform. If you think that businesses and companies hide dangerous defects in products or needlessly place the lives of others in danger, you’re likely skeptical of tort reform.
To be fair, those calling for tort reform in Florida have won major battles in other states. So we know exactly what it is that they’re hoping to accomplish with repeated calls for tort reform. Below, we’ll describe what tort reform looks like from the vantage of the plaintiff.
Tort Reform – The Plaintiff’s Side
You are driving to work one day when a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel and pulls his truck into your lane forcing you off the road. You are seriously injured in the crash and face an extended period of rehabilitation just to regain some of your ability to walk. You will never play tennis again, which you enjoy. You won’t be able to jog or play baseball. That part of your life is over. You may not be able to return to work and you also have many millions of dollars in medical expenses that you’re required to pay.
In states that have employed significant “tort reform” due to Republican control of the state legislature, defendants enjoy broadscale protection from “nuclear” verdicts or verdicts that are meant to “send a message” to an extremely negligent company. These states cap the amount of “non-economic” damages a plaintiff can recover to somewhere around $1 million. In other states, damages may be capped unless the individual has suffered the loss of life or limb.
What are “non-economic” damages? Essentially, non-economic damages refer to reduced quality of life and pain and suffering. This includes loss of consortium actions that are filed on behalf of spouses who have either lost their marital partner or have a marital partner who can no longer have sexual intercourse because of their injuries. It also includes damages for reduced quality of life in other areas. Very active people who enjoy sports would suffer more than a couch potato if they could no longer walk. Indeed, many of the things they once enjoyed are gone forever.
This is a kind of death. The death of a large part of your life. Would you want the legislature to pass a law that says that your suffering is only worth $1 million because the industry is so important that it matters less if they’re operating safely than it does that they’re operating at all?
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney
Injured? Call the Tampa personal injury attorneys at Matassini Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your injuries in more detail.