Tort reform is a movement that has made an effort to shape the legal system in recent decades to make it more difficult for victims to receive damages for injuries caused by businesses and medical providers. In this article, we’ll define tort reform and explain how it may affect a personal injury or medical malpractice insurance lawsuit. 

Key Takeaways

  • Tort reform is an effort to change the civil justice system in order to make it harder for consumers, patients, and individuals to recover damages from companies and medical providers
  • Tort reform aims to limit individual’s ability to file claims, obtain jury trials, and recover compensation 
  • Tort reform efforts have been successful at making it more difficult for medical malpractice plaintiffs to find lawyers and receive compensation

What Is Tort Reform?

Tort reform is a movement that began in the 1970s aiming to enact laws that limit an individual's ability to file civil lawsuits. It seeks to prevent people from being able to file claims, obtain jury trials, and recover compensation for their injuries and losses. 

Tort reform is generally favored by businesses, corporations, politicians, medical providers, and insurance companies, entities that can be held liable for paying damages to customers, patients, employees, and so on. Tort reform is intended to shield entities from the financial loss that is associated with liability litigation.

Proponents of tort reform argue that it prevents abusive practices against businesses, avoids clogging the legal system with frivolous lawsuits, and keeps product liability and medical malpractice insurance costs from rising. Critics of tort reform claim that it can limit people’s ability to get justice for their injuries, penalize those who can’t afford legal counsel, and disincentivize attorneys from helping financially disadvantaged victims. 

Tort Reform in Medical Malpractice Law

Tort reform can have a major impact on individuals seeking to file medical malpractice lawsuits. For example, because of tort reform, many states now have limits on the damages victims of medical malpractice can receive. Because of this, personal injury lawyers can often be hesitant to take on cases as their contingency fees, a percentage of the damages recovered, will be lower, making it less lucrative for them to work on these cases.

There are also many states where pre-suit litigation procedures have been implemented as a measure to cut down on the number of lawsuits. Before a claimant can pursue a lawsuit against a medical professional, they must often make a preliminary showing of negligence to the court. 

Tort Reform in Personal Injury Law 

So far, tort reform efforts haven’t been as successful in impacting personal injury law. In most states, there are no limits to the economic or non-economic damages that a plaintiff who proves liability can receive. Some state constitutions even prohibit damages caps. However, some states do cap damages.

Tort reform and its associated laws are important to be aware of if you are seeking to file a medical malpractice or personal injury lawsuit. You should know about any laws limiting your ability to file lawsuits, receive damages, and obtain a jury trial. In the case of medical malpractice claims, it may be more challenging for you to find a lawyer if the compensation you’re likely to receive isn’t very high. Regardless, it is highly recommended to find an experienced lawyer who is able to navigate tort reform laws and assist you in executing your claim and receiving the fairest possible compensation.

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