We have recently paid close attention to the status of a tort reform bill introduced last month in Congress known as H.R. 5. The legislation represents a dangerous combination of legal changes that would severely curtail the rights of innocent victims of negligence. The misconceptions and falsehoods used to promote this unnecessary legislation has been frequently debunked on this blog over the past few months.
The bill is particularly troubling because of its large scope-it applies to medical malpractice claims, nursing home claims, and wrongful death lawsuits. It includes arbitrary caps on non-economic damages, and shortens the statute of limitations on many acts of negligence. It also eliminates joint and several liability and raises pleading standards.
These changes would essentially make it harder for victims to win cases and, even once they’ve been won, harder to collect the entire damage award reached by the jury. Many of these changes preempt state law, meaning that the federal government would be overriding the will of many states, forcing these unfair rules upon them.
Unfortunately, the American Association for Justice reported this weekend that H.R. 5 recently passed its first legislative hurdle after being approved by the House Judiciary Committee. The legislation will next be considered by the entire House of Representatives as early as next month.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti reject these misguided efforts to legally handcuff victims. An honest discussion about the 98,000 patients killed every year by medical malpractice can never been had if we keep running through the same old attempts to eliminate victim rights. We will continue to fight against big business efforts to shut regular Americans out of the process. The nation was founding on principles of equal access to justice made by a jury of the community. We cannot allow that system to be destroyed.
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