In the United States, when someone is wronged by a doctor’s carelessness, or a company that sells him a bad product, he can turn to the civil justice system to have his voice heard and to get justice. Unfortunately, efforts are underway by major corporations that seriously impact the effectiveness of the civil justice system. American Association for Justice has recently announced a new campaign to help educate the public about the efforts of these special interests and to help citizens stand up for their right to fairly access the court system.
Our Detroit accident lawyers applaud the American Association for Justice efforts to bring attention to an important legal issue. Their grassroots activism can hopefully help people to learn the truth about tort reform and to learn how to take action to protect the effectiveness of the civil court system.
American Association for Justice Launches “Take Justice Back”
In November 2012, American Association for Justice announced their new campaign to fight corporate efforts to limit justice. The campaign is called “Take Justice Back” and it includes a website featuring:
- News on tort reform
- Personal stories from people affected by tort reform
- An explanation of the myths and realities of tort reform
- State specific information on tort reform laws
- Information on how individuals can take action
This website as well as other educational materials and campaign events will help to expose the truth about what corporations and special interests are doing and will provide a real way for consumers to get educated and protect themselves.
Understanding Tort Reform
The most well-known type of tort reform involves caps on economic damages, especially in medical malpractice cases. Michigan currently has damage caps in place limiting the amount a plaintiff can recover for non-monetary losses in medical malpractice cases.
These caps mean that if a jury awards more money to a plaintiff because of the harm the plaintiff has suffered, the award can be reduced. In 2009, for example, Michigan Live reports that a plaintiff in Michigan was awarded $15 million in a dental malpractice lawsuit against an oral surgeon. The plaintiff’s damages were reduced to $619,000 because of the damage cap.
Damage caps on medical malpractice lawsuits are a big problem for consumers who are at serious risk of being injured by careless doctors. In fact, as the American Association for Justice reports, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) study revealed that as many as 98,000 people are killed each year as a result of medical mistakes that were preventable.
Corporations are also limiting access to justice by including arbitration clauses in contracts that consumers are forced to sign. A recent case called AT&T Mobility made this issue much worse for consumer because forced arbitration clauses can now deny a consumer’s right to bring a class action lawsuit.
When a company commits many minor wrongs against a lot of customers, class actions are usually the only way to get justice. In many of these cases, it isn’t worth the time or money for any individual plaintiff to bring a single claim against the corporation. Without the ability to file class actions, the customers have no means of recourse against the company. Paypal, for example, is one company that has recently changed its contract to effectively forbid class actions according to Take Justice Back.
The Dangers of Tort Reform
When consumers are limited in their access to the courts, they are limited in their ability to get justice. When a jury awards $15 million, for example, this is because the plaintiff suffered $15 million worth of damage and pain at the hands of the careless dentist. An arbitrary damage cap saying that the plaintiff doesn’t deserve this is an unfair denial of rights and allows the doctor and his insurer to avoid paying what is due.
Take Justice Back is an important campaign because it aims to inform the public about the often-misunderstood subject of tort reform. With personal stories, news and ideas for activism, the campaign can hopefully make a real difference in protecting the rights of the public. The truth of the matter is that campaign donations are the only real reason a politician votes for such limits when he hopes the voters are not looking.
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Detroit or the surrounding areas, contact the Law Offices of Goodman Acker for a free case consultation. Call 1-566-366-8567.