5 Ways Tort Reform Proposed by Governor Matt Bevin Could Hurt Kentucky Citizens
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on November 30, 2016
As a result of Matt Bevin winning the vote for Governor of Kentucky, Kentuckians knew that the Commonwealth was about to experience some change. After 8 years of governing under Democrat Steve Beshear, Bevin entered office with a new agenda. Mainly, it aimed at a variety of significant changes, including tort reform. As tort law attorneys, this is something of concern to us. And we believe that it should also be a concern to every Kentucky citizen.
What is Tort Reform?
Generally speaking, tort reform involves changing the civil justice system so that injury victims have a more difficult time filing tort litigation cases, or receiving damages that we believe they justly deserve.
In layman’s terms, tort reform references laws that aim to limit the amount of damages people can receive. It also controls the kinds of damages people can file suit for in personal injury cases. These changes can hurt everyday people in a variety of ways. Below are 5 examples of the ways that tort reform in Kentucky could negatively impact the rights of Kentucky citizens.
5 Ways Tort Reform in Kentucky Could Hurt Everyday Citizens
Tort reform could make it harder for ordinary citizens to file injury lawsuits.
Some politicians see injury lawsuits as hindrances to big business. From this perspective, addressing liability issues takes time and money away from production and profitability. Tort reform would make it harder for citizens to file personal injury lawsuits therefore making it difficult for personal injury lawyers like the Cooper and Friedman law firm to help citizens involved in injury lawsuit cases. Consequently, it could also enable big businesses to focus more on profitability, and less on the safety and quality of their products and services.
Tort reform could work to eliminate contingency fees.
Lawyers receive contingency fees if the lawyer successfully handles the case. Lawyers and clients use contingency fees in personal injury or workers compensation cases. If eliminated then a majority of plaintiffs looking to file a personal injury lawsuit would not be able to. Therefore, many deserving citizens basic rights would not get fair representation.
Tort reform may lead to medical review panels.
Under tort reform, it is possible that the Commonwealth would instate medical review panels to review certain types of cases including death under care of a nursing home or long term care agency. If medical review panels were enacted, the rights of victims of nursing home abuse or elder neglect may become restricted. Suing for damages including loss of life could become much more difficult. That’s because loss of life is considered a non-economic damage that tort reform would work to substantially reduce rewards.
Tort reform could limit medical malpractice claims.
On the same note, passing these policies would make it more difficult to sue nursing home facilities. It would also become harder to sue medical providers who are perpetrators of medical malpractice. Under tort reform laws, the ability to sue doctors for substantial amounts of money in cases of medical malpractice would be limited. If suits made it to court then medical review panels would be used as evidence with or without merit to the case. Supporters of tort reform argue that by protecting doctors from medical malpractice suits, medical costs across the state would go down. However, at what cost? Medical errors seriously injure, and even kill, thousands of Kentuckians each year. If victims lose their right to seek damages, it could have a serious negative impact on many people’s lives.
Tort reform could restrict a person’s rights in product liability cases.
If a business sells a product to a consumer that is defective and causes lasting damage, it only seems right that the victim would be able to fight for due compensation. With tort reform, a person’s ability to receive settlements in product liability cases against large corporations would become limited. Damages would have a cap and product liability cases would be more difficult to begin.
As detailed in the examples above, tort reform in Kentucky would work to strip citizens of their rights under the 7th amendment – the right to a trial by jury. It also limits the ability of personal injury attorneys to fully advocate on behalf of their clients.
As attorneys with over 45 combined years of experience serving accident victims in Kentucky and Indiana, the Cooper and Friedman law firm has successfully collected millions of dollars for seriously injured people. These include people injured in truck accidents, motorcycle crashes, dog bite attacks, workplace chemical spills, and medical mistakes.
These injuries happen to everyday people who suffer permanent damages from things like: exposure to harmful chemicals that cause cancer, workplace injuries that lead to lost limbs, blindness and other permanent disabilities, and motor vehicle accidents that cause brain injuries, making it impossible for a person to continue earning a living as a result. At worst, it involves accidental death cases where families suffer consequences created by the sudden loss of a loved one.
In these examples, there isn’t an amount of money or reward that takes away the terrible pain of the unthinkable. Yet, the right to receive fair legal protection does help to ease some of the burdens experienced by injury victims. Tort reform would make it difficult, or even impossible, for everyday people to seek the legal protection they deserve.