Tort reform has been a hot political topic over the last few years. Those who promote tort reform want to eliminate or greatly reduce attorney contingency fees. They also seek to eliminate punitive damages and restrict the ability of consumers to sue over injuries. Such restrictions would only feed corporate power and greed at the expense of consumers.
Loud, Persistent Campaigns Provide Illusion of Plausibility
Tort reform advocates have used their deep pockets to keep this issue at the forefront of the public mind for years. Merely by keeping their platform in the public eye for so long, tort reformers have managed to gain an air of authority that allows them to secure more support as time passes. Citizens eventually begin to see tort reform arguments as accepted truths instead of thinking about what tort reform would do to the average citizen.
Tort Reform Would Stifle Patient Lawsuits
Most of the injured parties who rightfully file suit against corporations are not wealthy individuals. The contingency fees provide incentive for attorneys to pay the costs of litigation up front, knowing they will most likely be compensated for their efforts. The fees also ensure litigants who lose their cases do not walk away holding large legal bills.
Removing contingency fees would effectively cut the average consumer out of the legal process entirely. Few consumers can afford attorney’s fees, especially if they are out of work because of an injury. Hundreds of cases would go untried, no matter how important or deserving those cases were.
Corporations Want to Keep Patients out of Court
Corporations and insurance the companies that pay corporate liability claims continue to fund the campaigns of politicians who pursue tort reform in an effort to improve corporate profits. When consumers have restricted access to trial lawyers, corporations benefit from fewer lawsuits against them. Consumers and patients would go undefended as corporations and insurance companies grew more powerful and less accountable.
How Corporations Would Profit from Tort Reform
Consider a lawsuit worth $10 million. If the attorney that tries the case and wins collects a 30% contingency fee, he collects $3 million, less hundreds of thousands of dollars in court, research and other legal costs. The injured part will collect some of those funds, while the court is likely to use a large portion of any punitive damages to establish a relief fund for other injured parties. However, if tort reform made such a lawsuit too difficult to pursue, the corporation stands to profit by $10 million. It is not hard to see who profits most if tort reform laws succeed.
Tort laws allow consumers to make companies pay for their mistakes. Punitive damages ensure that it becomes cheaper for companies to improve their business practices rather than continue cutting costs at the expense of consumer safety. Without them, corporate America is free to put profits ahead of people.
If you or someone you love suffered injury from a defective product or medication, contact our office for expert legal advice. Our experienced attorneys will provide a free consultation to outline your rights and help you decide if you should pursue a lawsuit.