Just ask a victim of a catastrophic injury if tort reform is a good thing and they will say no. Whether you happen to be a supporter of tort reform or not, you will be thankful the law exists if you or your family suffers an injury. As New York personal injury attorneys, we offer a quick summary of the United States tort system and the opposing view of tort reform so you can be better informed.
Tort actions were created as a non-legislative way to compensate wrongs and harm done by one person to another’s person, property or other protected interests, e.g. physical injury or reputation. Its basic premise is that if someone harms someone else, they should make up for it. First, the tort system tries to compensate victims for their losses; second, it tries to set an example of liability to avoid future harm or accidents. “Harm” can be defined as a loss of income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, or loss of future income.
Tort Reform Supporting Views
Tort reformers maintain that the present tort system is an expensive and inefficient way to compensate those injured. The supporters argue that the system stifles innovation and other economically stimulating activity, and suggest that small businesses are hurt worse (the worst?) by the current system. Furthermore, tort reform supporters argue that large businesses and corporations often use their enormous resources to delay trials, pursue frivolous appeals, and contest claims in which their liability is clear-cut.
Tort Reform Opposing Views
Critics of tort reform contend that the real goal of those who seek reform is to shield large businesses from having to accept liability to consumers, healthcare patients and clients for damages. They further say that limitations on punitive damages hurt victim rights and reduce corporate accountability. This is because businesses typically engage in a cost-benefit analysis before considering whether to stop a wrongful action (such as polluting or not enacting proper measures for safety). If the business decides that the cost of changing a wrongful practice would be greater than the cost of continuing it then a key deterrent of the tort system is lost.
Proponents of the existing tort system also contend that tort reform advocates are ignoring the benefits of our current tort system. They claim that tort lawsuits encourage corporations to produce safer products, discourage them from selling dangerous products like asbestos, and encourage more safe and effective medical practices.
Work with a New York personal injury attorney who isn’t biased one way or another – one who places the needs of the victims and their families first. Contact us.