Complaints about the civil justice system in the United States have likely been made from the moment the Bill of Rights was drafted and included a provision guaranteeing the right to a jury trial to settle civil disputes. Today is no exception, as political rancor is still wrought by those who claim that “tort reform” laws need to be enacted to save certain special interests. In our area, every Chicago medical malpractice lawyer has likely gotten used to dealing with the complaints of these groups which are seeking to take away some of the most basic rights of average community members-rights that have been around seemingly longer than the nation itself.
Commonly, the argument is made that medical malpractice lawsuits cause doctor insurance premiums to increase and therefore result in higher overall medical bills. We have repeatedly explained how those claims are not rooted in fact according to virtually all balanced research on the subject. They are usually nothing more than scare tactics. Large medical interests and insurance groups have used the claim to drum up support for legislation changes that would essentially immunize themselves for significant liability for the harm that they cause, no matter how severe.
Besides those tired old claims, sometimes arguments are made explaining the woes of our civil justice system by comparing it to legal systems across the world. America is a particularly litigious nation, the claims goes, and so we should model ourselves upon the methods used by other nations. However, a new paper published two scholars and reported in Forbes explained that these comparisons are a lot more complicated that some initially think. In fact, the paper explains how the American legal system does not differ much at all in everyday litigation matters when compared to other industrialized countries. In fact, the paper’s authors were quick to point out that the U.S. is particularly efficient at creating predictable outcomes in business matters, such as contract disputes.
Overall, the U.S. does have a higher percentage of litigation per captia than other systems, and there are more lawyers in the U.S. as a percentage of total population than elsewhere. However, the story’s authors explain that these statistics are often distorted by those seeking to enact tort reform legislation. Many other nations have lower rates of lawyers, the paper explains, because non-lawyers are allowed to perform certain tasks in those countries that they cannot here. For example, lawyers are required to do certain tax and real estate work in America whereas places like Japan allow those services to be performed without a legal degree or license.
There is always room for discussions about ways to improve our legal system. Every Chicago medical malpractice lawyer who has experience in the field will likely have a list of ideas of things that should be changed. However, it is one thing to work to improve the way that justice is handled, and it is quite another to completely bar juries from making certain decisions in one fell swoop. Virtually all tort reform proposals on the table are not the product of balanced discussions among all involved actors to improve our system of justice. Instead they reflect reactionary, rash decisions making by those who have a lot to gain by not having to pay for medical malpractice lawsuits after patients are horrifically injured by preventable mistakes.
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