You often hear politicians claim, “lawyers are filing frivolous lawsuits.” The ambulance chasers of the world, the derogatory term used for attorneys by media personalities who sell snake oil on their radio shows, must be stopped before they harm businesses and medical professionals. However, tort reform is nothing more than the legislators of a given state suggesting that they know more than a jury about how much a given case is worth. But, isn’t determining how much a Plaintiff’s injuries are worth and how much Defendants should pay for their negligent actions, the purview of the jury? Supporters of tort reform say no. determining how much a case is worth is the job of legislators who have never heard the case, seen the injured person, or has taken the time to care about either. Below are the common arguments you hear in support of tort reform, and to adopt a term beloved by tort reform advocates, why these arguments are frivolous.
The extreme increase in healthcare costs are due to attorneys filing lawsuits.
The state of Indiana has one of the strictest tort reforms statutes. Tort reform in Michigan is extreme and overly supportive towards medical professionals and institutions as well. So, to all the residents of Indiana or Michigan, how are your healthcare costs? Have they gone down? The numbers you see on your medical bills speak the truth. No. Thus, healthcare costs are not being increased by medical malpractice lawsuits.
Lawsuits decrease the quality of medical treatment
The opposite is true. When individuals know they will be held accountable for their actions in a court of law, they insure they are practicing their profession at a higher level of quality. In addition, insurance providers will be less likely to provide coverage to low quality medical professionals if they run the risk of massive judgements and verdicts. But, if the amount any plaintiff can receive in a judgement is predetermined by the legislators, insurance providers can easily calculate the amount of possible exposure and insure lower quality doctors in order to increase profits.
Lawsuits lead to lower quality medical professionals
I love south bend and the surrounding area. It is where I grew up. However, let’s face facts. The best doctors and medical experts are not angling to obtain a position at a medical facility in South Bend. Instead, they are obtaining positions at the university of Illinois, North Western, or John Hopkins, all located in states without tort reform legislation.
Without tort reform attorneys file frivolous lawsuits
This argument presupposes several things. First, it suggests jury members (you in other words) are too stupid and ignorant to determine whether a case is valid. Legislators who depend upon your vote do not phrase this argument in this manner. They need your vote after all. But, if they had faith in your ability to act as a jury member, why do they need to determine the value of verdicts through tort reform legislation? So, when it comes to you, are you too stupid and ignorant? I say no. The frivolous lawsuits argument presupposes that judges are also too stupid and ignorant to be able to determine whether he or she should throw out a case. are judges too stupid and ignorant? In my experience, in almost every instance the answer is no. The frivolous lawsuits argument presupposes that judges have no ability to throw out invalid cases or reduce unjust verdicts. Both of these arguments are wrong. Judges can throw out a case by ruling on a defendant’s
- Motion to dismiss
- Motion for summary judgement
- Renewed motion for summary judgement
- Motion for judgement as a matter of law
- Judges can also themselves reduce the amount of a jury’s verdict on their own volition. It is called Remittitur. Again, the legislators must believe our judges are too stupid ant ignorant to know when they should exercise this power.
Remember, tort reform has nothing to do with attorneys. Attorneys are going to find a way to make money. Tort reform is about whether you will receive adequate compensation in the event that you are disfigured or permanently injured from the negligence of a medical professional. Supports of tort reform have provided their answer. It is a decisive no.
However, this country is a democracy. It is a government for, by, and of the people. It is up to you as a voter to render yours each election season.
If you believe you might have a case, it is crucial you contact a qualified attorney immediately. Contact The Lockwood Legal Group for a free consultation today! You can call our office phone, cell phone, or send us an email.