A recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling reveals that the majority of Americans are against legislation that caps recoverable damages in cases involving medical malpractice and nursing home abuse. The poll also showed that even more Americans from the seven states surveyed are in favor of holding wrongdoers accountable, particularly when it comes to abuse or neglect in nursing homes.
The survey is a direct response to tort reform and efforts to pass laws that enact substantial changes in our civil justice system. Respondents of the survey were specifically asked to voice their opinion on legislation currently being considered by Congress – HR 1215. Together with another similar proposed tort reform referenda that creates unfair restrictions in class actions, HR 1215 would significantly limit the rights of victims who suffer harm as the result of negligence.
- HR 1215 – Known as the Protecting Access to Care Act, this proposed legislation would place a $250,000 cap on the amount of compensation victims of medical malpractice are able to recover for their noneconomic damages, which can include their emotional injuries and pain and suffering. This means that regardless of how devastating injuries or preventable death may be for victims and families, they will not be able to recover more than $250,000 for their emotional damages. HR 1215 also applies to cases involving injuries that result from nursing home abuse and neglect, defective medical products, and dangerous prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs.
Tort reform has been a hot button issue for many years, with many states passing similar laws to cap damages, but it has been thrust to the forefront with HR 1215, where it receives widespread criticism from victims, advocates, and, according to these new findings, most Americans.
If data and public sentiment indicate that the majority of Americans do not agree with limiting the rights of victims, it becomes crucial to look at what is actually motivating efforts behind introducing and passing laws that do precisely that. The unfortunate truth is that these proposed legislative acts, and tort reform in general, are fueled by business groups that have a financial interest in limiting or preventing personal injury lawsuits.
Corporate powers go to great lengths to protect their bottom line, and by supporting these measures, they look for more durable ways of shirking liability and shielding their financial stakes. Often, corporations, insurance providers, and Big Business perpetuate the misconception that personal injury lawsuits have gotten out of hand. In reality, personal injury lawsuits are the most effective tool for correcting and deterring abuses not covered by the criminal justice system, and for ensuring victims’ have a voice to secure justice and fair compensation from the negligent wrongdoers liable for their damages. Damages caps also strip decision-making power away from juries, which are comprised of everyday American citizens, and places that power in the hands of lobbyists who flood our politics with money.
Protecting corporate powers, as HR 1215 and other tort reform measures look to do, is an explicit act of placing profits over people, and its sheer lack of transparency and disregard clearly resonates with Americans. Capping noneconomic damages is a failure in accounting for the profound and often devastating impact negligence and preventable injuries can have on a victim and their loved ones. Even when negligence or abuse disrupt families, prevent victims from leading independent lives, create debilitating and lifelong impairments, or extinguish a life, these laws would ignore the tremendous emotional burdens of the injured and the wronged. As evidenced by many the many multi-million dollar jury verdicts corporate interests want to avoid, Americans are not ignorant to the emotional impact of preventable injuries and disabilities, and in many cases give them more weight than physical pain and difficulties.
As a personal injury law firm that fights for seriously injured victims and families throughout Florida, we understand the power of our civil justice system, and we oppose measures that attack its foundations. Unfortunately, tort reform efforts will likely continue as long as corporate interests continue to inject money and motives into Washington, and politicize issues most Americans personally oppose. However, Americans do have the power to make their opinions heard and raise awareness. Contact your state U.S. Congress members; express your opposition to legislation that is fundamentally unfair. You can do it.
As these measures continue to be debated, the fact remains that victims injured as a result of negligence have the right to pursue financial compensation for their damages, as well as the right to work with experienced and resourceful legal representation capable of leveling the playing field between them and corporations that want to pay as little as possible. Our legal team at Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin remains committed to protecting your rights.
Help us help you, by contacting your U.S. Congress members and say no to caps on damages in Medical Malpractice and Nursing Home cases.
If you have questions about personal injury law or wish to discuss a potential case, contact us for a free case evaluation.