Political debates, television news, and radio sound bites regarding healthcare and medical malpractice reform commonly use the phrase “tort reform”, but seldom provide any in-depth information about what tort reform is or what it entails.
The simple definition of the word “tort” is injury or wrongful act. To be more specific, a tort has been committed when physical, emotional, or financial injury has been caused against another party, regardless of the act being intentional or unintentional. When a tort is committed against a medical patient, the injured party has the legal right to hire a medical malpractice attorney to bring suit against the perpetrator for damages.
Medical malpractice, and medical negligence are just two broad category examples of torts. Tort reform measures were enacted in California in the 1970s due to a jump in the cost of medical malpractice insurance. Caps were placed on victim's compensation, and limits on the contingency fees of personal injury attorneys were also instituted.
Tort reform refers to the idea that laws should be passed by a state or federal government to limit the amount and/or type of awards that are given to an injured party. The innocuous sounding phrase of “reform” actually amounts to decreasing the rights a person has to seek fair compensation for a civil wrong. Applying a statute of limitations on the amount of time that one has to file a medial malpractice claim is the most commonly known example of tort reform. Another example is dollar amount limits that have been put in place to limit the amount of damage awards.
So-called “reform” places limits on the amount of responsibility that the negligent or wrongdoer must legally bear. And who are the strongest supporters of tort reform? Large companies and insurance corporations.
R. Klettke is a freelance writer. He writes about personal injury and medical malpractice law and other matters of jurisprudence.
Note: This article is not intended to provide legal advice upon which you should rely in making any decisions regarding the instituting or prosecuting of a legal claim. Laws and rules relating to the bringing of a claim vary widely from state to state. You should always contact a personal injury attorney to obtain information as to the rules and the laws pertaining to any claim you might have.
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