Currently those who have been harmed as a result of medical malpractice have the constitutional right to seek compensation for their losses and suffering through a tort lawsuit. However, advocates of tort reform are increasingly pressuring lawmakers to enact a series of legislation that would take away an injured victim's right to file a suit, prevent them from obtaining full compensation for their losses, and limiting the liability of those who committed the wrong. The following are some tort reform strategies that may strip you of your rights:
Caps on Non-Economic Damages – Those who suffer losses such as permanent disability, the loss of a loved one, and physical and emotional pain and suffering, may seek non-economic damages through a personal injury lawsuit in which a judge or jury determines the compensation amount based on evidence presented in the case. One of the main goals of tort reform is to put a cap on the amount of non-economic damages awarded to a victim, significantly hindering their constitutional rights.
Caps on Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are awarded to victims to punish large corporations that can afford to throw safety out the window in pursuit of profits. The prospect of facing punitive damages in the event of a lawsuit is one of the only threats that keep large corporations in line. Putting a cap on punitive damages would hinder the deterrent impact of this law and encourage defendants to pursue their wrongdoing.
Statute of Limitations – Statute of limitations restricts the amount of time a victim of medical malpractice has to file a claim. Once this specified time (varies state-by-state) passes, the victim has lost his/her right to file a suit no matter how serious the injury or unscrupulously the offending party acted. By limiting the window of time in which the victim can file a suit, tort reform advocates aim to lower the number of lawsuits filed.
Joint and Several Liability Limits – In a civil lawsuit involving more than one guilty defendant, a judge or jury determines how much of the total damages each defendant must pay. Currently, the law states that if one defendant cannot pay their share, the other fully liable wrongdoer must chip in to ensure the injured victim receives full compensation. By limiting joint and several liability, a guilty defendant would no longer be responsible for covering a bankrupt defendant's share of the damages, making it increasingly difficult for an injured victim to file claims against multiple parties or receive full compensation for their losses and suffering.
Abolish Collateral Source Rule – The collateral source rule shields victims from being forced to disclose the amount of compensation they have received from sources like health insurance or disability insurance companies. The abolishment of this rule may allow defendants to escape full financial liability and may also unfairly sway deliberating juries. Terminating the collateral source rule would result in dramatically smaller compensation awards and fewer guilty verdicts.
Your Legal Rights
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice, don't forfeit your right to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your losses and suffering. Please contact us today for a FREE consultation with a qualified and experienced medical malpractice attorney who will aggressively defend your legal rights and maximize your interests.
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