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Colorado and West Virginia are in Danger of Suffering from “Tort Reform”

While courts in states as varies as Illinois, Missouri, and Florida continue to hold tort reform measures designed to rob injured plaintiffs of their rights to recover for their personal injuries unconstitutional, legislators continue to push these measures in states that have not yet enacted them. Colorado is the next state to face the possibility of draconian tort reform measures this legislative term. Caps on medical malpractice damages are just one type of law that the insurance lobby is pushing for this year. West Virginians are also in danger.

Colorado Legislators Push for Tort Reform

Denver’s News 9 reports that the Colorado legislature has already introduced 111 bills this session. Tort reform efforts are among those bills and apparently the effort is at least partially bipartisan. The Denver Business Journal reports that the efforts are large scale.

Each year in Colorado there are several bills introduced to cap lawsuit damage awards. These sorts of caps rob juries of their role in medical malpractice cases and rob injured patients of the recoveries they deserve. Usually these bills go no where in the Colorado legislature. However, Republicans that have recently taken control of the state senate and who narrowed the gap in the House are expected to push harder this year.

Tort Reform in West Virginia

The West Virginia Record reports that tort reform is also on the West Virginia legislature’s agenda. The incoming president of the state senate, Bill Cole, told a radio reporter that tort reform will be at the top of the West Virginia Republican Party’s agenda this session. Republican lawmakers now hold a majority in the state’s legislature which makes it more likely they will pass some sort of tort reform package. It remains to be seen how far the measures will go and whether they will include damage caps.

Texas Likely to Continue Denying Injured Parties their Rights

Finally, Governor Rick Perry’s replacement, Greg Abott announced that he will continue Governor Perry’s policies on tort reform. The Southeast Texas Record reports that last month Abbot told the media that he would continue to support Perry’s policies. Texas has particularly draconian limits on patient’s ability to recover for injuries caused by their healthcare providers. In addition to having low caps on damages, the state also has a law that makes it nearly impossible to recover for emergency room malpractice. Rather than having to prove that a doctor acted negligently, in Texas an injured patient has to show that there was “wanton” negligence, a much higher burden of proof. Texas also continues to reject the “loss of chance” doctrine. Under the loss of chance doctrine, families of those hurt by medical providers can recover even if their loved one’s chance of survival was less than fifty percent even without the malpractice. In Texas, however, families cannot recover for those lost chances at life.

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