When we discuss tort “reform” on this blog we are typically referring to the attempts by some to limit the damage awards reached by impartial, unbiased juries. Damage caps are likely the most discussed part of these so-called reforms. As we’ve attempted to show repeatedly, those caps act as an arbitrary infringement upon the rights of a jury to make decisions in our legal system. The ramifications of efforts to handcuff juries will be seen in all Illinois medical malpractices cases.
One facet of the debate that receives less attention that it warrants is the alternatives to arbitrary damage caps. As an article in the Huffington Post points out, even if all the dubious assertions made by proponents of tort reform are true (unlikely), there still exists superior alternatives actions to random caps on the awards provided by juries.
For example, even if there are some frivolous lawsuits-as claimed by doctors-why would that automatically mean that legitimate claims should be punished because of the frivolous? Turned on its head, the concept would mean that all doctors should receive lower Medicare payments because some doctors make fraudulent Medicare claims. The logic behind blanket restrictions on the rights of all victims fails.
Of course, there also remain other alternatives to solving this claimed crisis. Malpractice insurance premiums can be capped if doctors feel the rates are too high. There is no reason why the victims of the poor medical care should be the ones who are forced to suffer. The minimal discussion alternatives are telling, as insurance companies and other major interests are at least partially behind the effort to take away victim rights with damage caps. A clear motive behind the effort is less to reign in claimed excesses but to immunize certain sectors from the responsibility that comes with providing medical care to their community members.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti believe in an open assessment about all the issues surrounding the tort reform debate. The claims made about the need for these changes and the types of changes required are both overblown and misleading. Ensuring the preservation of justice for all ordinary citizens will require community members to stand up to this effort.
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