Tort Reform and What It Means for You

Some of our recent blogs have discussed the importance of uncovering misconceptions that people often hear regarding disability benefits and people who receive public benefits. Voters should be as informed as they can be regarding an issue before casting their votes heading into this fall’s presidential election. Another important area for this upcoming election is tort reform.

What is Tort Reform?

A tort is a civil lawsuit when someone hurts another party. What has become the quintessential case for tort reform, at least in some people’s minds, is the 1994 “hot coffee” McDonald’s case where a woman won a jury verdict against McDonald’s for its coffee that spilled in her lap and scalded her. The jury awarded her $160,000 for medical expenses and $2.7 million in punitive damages.

For Tort Reform

Tort reform supporters argue that, by capping the amount that victims can receive in cases like the hot coffee one, we can cut down on the awards that businesses have to pay when juries return awards that seem out of touch with reality. Other aspects of tort reform like a “loser pays” system where the losing side pays both sides’ costs could help reduce the sheer number of frivolous lawsuits seeking large court awards. These lawsuits, supporters argue, force doctors to pay high malpractice premiums and companies to pay large awards for what are often weak lawsuits.

Against Tort Reform

Those opposing tort reform argue that multi-million dollar court awards are useful because they discourage companies and doctors from engaging in fraud or acts that harm people. When juries find doctors or companies liable for a tort, that usually means that someone suffered a serious injury and deserves compensation rather than a cap. Also, if the amount that a victim can receive is subject to a cap under tort reform, companies have less of an incentive to take safety measures if they know that their liability is limited.

Tort reform has side effects for beneficiaries of public benefits – if companies’ and doctors’ liability is capped, who pays for the victim’s medical bills? In Wednesday’s post, we discuss more of how tort reform could impact you if you are receiving public benefits like disability benefits.

Do you or a family member depend on financial support that you received from a negligence lawsuit? How would reductions impact your day-to-day life?

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers



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