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What Is Tort Reform and How Can It Harm You?

With Speaker of the House Paul Ryan heading up a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), it’s beginning to look like medical malpractice plaintiffs may get trumped by Republican congressmen who are out to put a cap on funds awarded to personal injury victims. If you consider how resistant the new President is to regulate other industries, this news should come as surprising, if not ironic.

Nevertheless, the GOP-controlled House is working relentlessly to nix Obamacare and push forward their Repeal and Reform bill. Included in it is a call for Federal tort reform. As a firm of personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers serving Burlington County, we want to lay out the problems with Speaker Ryan’s solution to Obamacare.

Tort Reform Explained

Tort reform refers to the general decrease of a personal injury victim’s ability to succeed in pursuing legal action against his or her offender. It comes in two forms:

  • Caps on damages one can receive are implemented, or decreased
  • Ability to bring tort litigation becomes stricter than before

In other words, if tort reform occurs, your malpractice case will be harder to win—or bring to the table to begin with—and the insurance payouts may not have to cover the full extent of your suffered damages.

Why Is Tort Reform a Problem?

Firstly, its ethical intent is questionable. Speaker Ryan’s plan heavily favors the insurance industry, which is undoubtedly biased toward laws and policies in which they can pay out as little as possible. Their influence on Capitol Hill is strong enough to rival industries with the highest lobbying presence—mainly because insurance pales only to the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to lobbying in Washington—which leaves to question who’s really behind the Repeal and Reform bill. We’ll leave you to discern whether or not Speaker Ryan is merely a puppet for the insurance industry or not.

Secondly, the caps may be unconstitutional. At least that’s what myriad public interest groups, the state of Florida and some House Republicans think. Florida has ruled against the constitutionality of damages caps three times now. Meanwhile, multiple studies by public interest groups found that damages caps don’t work for the reasons insurance companies claim they do.

These entities believe that Federal tort reform is unlawful because it removes too much decision making power from the states, while voiding injury victims of their legal rights to obtain appropriate compensation, and discouraging them to pursue their cases.

Regardless of what happens, we’re always here to represent those in need of personal injury, automobile accident and workers’ compensation lawyers in Gloucester County and nearby areas. Call us any time for a complimentary consultation, or to vent about the Repeal and Reform bill—or better yet, if this bothers you, exercise your civic duty and write or call your representative!