29 Jul Tort Reform – Good or Bad?
People wonder whether tort reform is good or bad? Tort reform is something that has been happening in Missouri for some time now. It is the idea that there are “runaway juries” that are driving insurance rates up and doctors out of the state. Therefore, tort reform reduces harms and losses to which injured parties are otherwise entitled. If you know me and what I do for a living, you can probably guess that I think tort reform is not good.
In fact, what would happen if tort reform was allowed to operate unhindered? The Pop Tort, whose tagline is “…so civil justice isn’t toast”, wrote a blog post with an interesting thought: “Let’s round up all the folks from the Americans Tort Reform Association – the corporate folks who produce that (both) sad and hilarious Judicial Hellhole report each year – and make them all spend a year together somewhere. There’d be only one requirement for this new hot spot: all those civil justice cases that ATRA abhors so much would be banned. Illegal. Verboten! Let’s call this new place, I dunno, ATRA Paradise!”
What follows is some of the protections we are afforded to which these folks would now no longer be entitled (directly from the blog post):
- Asbestos. Lots of it. Sadly, they’ll be poisoned and many will die like 10,000 Americans each year but residents of ATRA Paradise won’t be able to do a thing about it.
- Lead paint. Unlike other cities, ATRA Paradise won’t get any clean-up help from the paint companies who ‘knew as early as 1912 that lead paint caused brain damage in babies and children, yet … marketed this paint specifically for use in nurseries, and directed advertisements at babies and children.
- Unsafe drug vials that lead to events like Hep C outbreaks. Also, drugs that mislead consumers due to their manufacturers’ unfair and deceptive acts. Outside of ATRA Paradise, lawsuits by states against deceptive drug companies result in millions of dollars to state governments. Guess they’ll just have to raise taxes instead!
- Hospitals with rampant medical errors – the third leading cause of death in the U.S. We all have to live with that problem but at ATRA Paradise, their catastrophically-injured child will just have make do on Medicaid!
- Corrupt mortgage lenders that engage in unconscionable mortgage practices.
- Misbranded food intended to fool them into eating something it’s not.
- Nursing homes that abuse patients.
- Drinking water full of the gasoline additive MTBE.
- Insurance companies that deny claims in bad faith.
- Ruined shorelines and wetlands thanks to negligent oil companies.
So text time you are wondering if tort reform is good for you, hopefully you will think about the examples above. Some people are able to go through life without personally experiencing the effects of a personal injury. If so, you are very lucky. A greater portion of the population does experience it in some capacity, whether it be a fender bender which causes a strain in your back or a horrible medical negligence that results in permanent injuries to your eyes. Just be cognizant of the illustrations above when considering whether tort reform is really helping you and your family.
As usual, thank you for reading!
Tarun B. Rana, Esq.
“The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.”