You hear it all the time, politicians braying about ambulance chasers and our over-litigious society. Proponents of tort reform frame the argument around preventing frivolous lawsuits.
To the average person, that sounds like a good idea. We already sue too much, and wouldn’t the world be a better place if we weren’t always scared of potential lawsuits?
What sounds like a good idea might not necessarily be so. What does tort reform mean for the average American citizen? Read on to get the low down on what tort reform is and what it means for you.
What is Tort Litigation?
Tort litigation is a type of civil suit where a plaintiff who’s suffered loss or harm at the hands of the defendant sues for punitive damages.
Rather than a narrow portion of the law, torts cover a wide-ranging part of American law. Law experts explain this through what they call the “Four Torts.”
These four torts are duty, breach of duty, causation, and injury. In order to prove a successful claim and receive tort damages, a plaintiff must prove a defendant’s breach of duty caused harm.
Three Types of Tort Cases
While tort law encompasses a large portion of the U.S. legal system, there are three specific types of tort cases. They are strict liability, negligence, and intentional torts.
In these cases, the plaintiff can seek compensation even if the defendant did not intend on harm. Think about injury or damages caused by defective products.
A product manufacturer doesn’t intend on causing harm, but they are held liable regardless.
These are the cases where you need a good medical malpractice attorney. Negligence tort cases involve slip and fall, car accidents, and medical malpractice suits.
Negligence cases revolve around the legal duty of individuals to reduce the harm of others. Breaking that duty is negligence.
These are cases involving assault, battery, and fraud. These suits involve intentional wrongdoing committed by the defendant that caused personal injury or financial damage to the plaintiff.
The Effects of Tort Reform
Tort reformers maintain that the consumer costs of healthcare and other essential services remain too high due to excessive lawsuits that award punitive damages.
As tort reform caught fire among legislators, the costs of healthcare supposedly affected by tort lawsuits have not dropped.
Tort reform, as we know it, is a way to prevent large companies from facing legal ramifications by removing the average citizen’s access to the legal system.
As our country recovers from Covid-19 and people return to work, access to the legal system will be more important than ever for those exposed to the virus either intentionally or through gross negligence.
Tort Reform is Always a Hot Topic
You’re guaranteed to hear more about tort reform in the near future as private businesses, lawmakers, and the courts grapple with the long-term legal reality of Covid-19.
Remember, we’re all supposed to have equal protection under the law. Tort reform is often pitched as beneficial to the American public, but these days having the law on your side is more important than ever.
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to the law. Do you need more legal advice? Check out the rest of our articles.