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You Know Something's Fishy, They Call it Reform
Wampum: Scare Tactics:
"There is a huge, well funded interest group trying to pass tort reform. There are any number of journalists sympathetic to tort reform. If there are lots of crazy jury awards that stand up on appeal, why do we usually hear only the bogus ones?
... and read the follow up here as well.
There are much smarter, more articulate people contributing commentary to the web. For this I am glad. When people talk about Tort Reform it usually means putting caps on jury awards. To this I have to ask; have we lost all faith in the jury system that we have to step in and limit what they feel is a proper amount of compensation? I don't believe this. I think the system is working and that these jury awards are commiserate with the crimes. But according to the stories about these cases the verdicts are unfounded and the awards downright crazy. Well, as Wampum so nicely points out, this isn't the whole story. You should really go read the examples of stories he has debunked.
Imagine for the second that your car insurance rates went up every time a neighbor down the street got into a car accident. Now, imagine that you see this neighbor driving around talking on their cell phone, making crazy turns and taking all sorts of unnecessary risks. But as a driver you should share the costs of insuring people that are not as careful as you right? The amount you pay should go up whenever another driver acts poorly, and your ability to get your car fixed should be limited right?
Its disheartening to read stories about doctors that are threatening to move to other states because of the rising costs of malpractice insurance. But I have to scratch my head when I hear the proposed solutions. Doctors, who through no fault of their own have had their premiums raised because some other doctors have been successfully sued. We've already established that I believe the jury system works the way it should. So why is the solution offered be a cap on what those jurors see as adequate compensation? We should see these high jury awards for what they are, ordinary people feeling like they are doing right by the victims. In cases where a bad judgment was made we have ways of addressing that as well. Don't throw a wrench in the legal system to protect insurance companies!
If a doctor commits a grievous error in your care you want to have the ability to receive compensation for that error. Do we really want to say that all errors are only worth $250,000 as one federal bill would have it? Think of your life and what its worth. Now think about the burdens your disability would have on your family should you lose your ability to work and care for yourself and you were only able to recoup $250,000 for that injury.
The drive for Tort Reform will not keep the insurance companies from looking for new ways to make a bigger profit. Remember that every business is a growth business. They just see paying out claims as a drag on their profitability and this rush to limit awards is a way to boost profitability at the expense of hurt people. They are punishing doctors as a way of putting pressure to get the legal action they want from politicians.
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