Unfortunately the damaging effects of medical malpractice damage caps and other “tort reform” measure are hard to appreciate in the abstract. On one hand, the claims made by proponents of these bills always seems somewhat reasonable in vague terms-lowering costs, promoting cheaper healthcare, making more doctors available. However, there are two main problems with these general claims. First, they simple espouse positive attributes without any evidence that those attributes are connected to the “reforms” that they are proposing. Second, they ignore the very real costs associated with enacting these reforms. This is not a zero-sum game. Changing the legal rules to take away rights from those who have suffered devastating losses-often at the hands of big business-does nothing more than shift even more power away from ordinary Americans and into the hands of those with a monopoly on power anyway. These efforts must be fought at all costs.
Our Illinois birth injury attorneys believe that perhaps one of the best ways to demonstrate how these efforts hurt the majority of Americans is by spreading individual stories about how these legislative actions hurt everyday citizens. For example, in Florida, there are complex rules about how family’s can obtain funds from a medical malpractice lawsuit that they won if the defendant in the case was a public body. This leads to years of legislative battles as families try to convince the legislature to pass a bill to actually allow them to receive the funds that a judge or jury decided that they deserved after listening to the evidence in the case.
The Miami Herald discussed one of those state legislative battles in a story this week. They explained how a 14-year old boy spent his Valentine’s Day walking the halls of the state capitol, urging lawmakers to pass a “claims bill” so that he could receive the funds he is owed. The child-a straight A student-has had to face a range of difficulties throughout his life. He has limited use of his arms, legs, and moth. Even basic tasks are difficult for him. However, he has kept his spirit through it all.
His situation is made even more frustrating by the fact that his birth injuries were preventable, caused by negligent medical care by those who delivered him. His family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital. Five years ago a jury in his county heard the evidence in the case and awarded the family $30 million as a result of the severe brain injury that he received as a child. But he cannot receive anything, until the legislature passes a bill authorizing it.
Rules which mandate that victims jump through these hoops do nothing more than make the justice system even more inefficient. Families are forced to hire lobbyists and spent years engaged in prolonged political battles just to receive the award that a jury of their peers already deemed necessary. Far from helping the situation, these “reform” measures and others like them are nothing more than tactics to take away right from the poor and middle class and transfer it to those with money and clout.
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