This is part one of a three-part series exploring tort reform. From specific cases, to how the guise of tort reform is passed as cutting healthcare costs. Stay tuned, we have a lot to cover.
First things first.
What’s so twisty about tort reform?
“Tort” is derived from the Latin word “tortum,” which means to twist. What might be twisty about tort reform? The reality and definition of tort is within its very name. In English, tort is equivalent to a “wrong,” so, consider tort to be conduct that is not straight or lawful.
Torts are wrongful acts that result in injury to another party’s person, property, dignity or reputation. Wherein criminal cases have people versus the defendant, for tort suits, the injured plaintiff is suing the defendant for damages they may or may not be liable for. Torts law divides most specific torts into three general categories: intentional torts, negligent torts, and strict liability torts.
- Intentional torts are the causing of harm by an intentional act, such as intentionally conning someone out of his money.
- Negligent torts are the causing of harm through some negligent act. Take for instance someone causing a car accident by running a red light.
- And finally, strict liability torts are when a defendant is held fully liable for any injury sustained by another party – regardless of whether the injury was intended. Strict liability categories include animals, abnormally dangerous acts and product liability.
Reforming Tort Reform
Across the country, tort reform is a hot-button topic, and for good reason. Legislation affecting people’s abilities to bring lawsuits to court matters. The Bill of Rights contains some of the most vital and important freedoms guaranteed to United States citizens, and according to the Bill of Right’s Seventh Amendment:
In suits of common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved.
Keep in mind that when the Seventh Amendment was written in the 1700s, twenty bucks was considered to be quite a lot of money, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $20.00 in the 1700s is equivalent to about $602.72 in our economy today, but that’s not quite the information we should be stuck on. The right of trial by jury shall be preserved. This is what illuminates the Seventh Amendment. This right should be protected, inherently.
Giving people the ability to bring to light the wrongdoing of another person should be a staple and an implicit right within the fabric of our society. When you narrow people’s rights and reduce the scope further and further, eventually, these rights will be removed from individuals altogether. In a country that takes a hard stance on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” as stated in the Declaration of Independence, the government should continue to protect these “unalienable rights.”
Let’s explore an example of a negligent tort.
If person A has been negligent to person B, and person B gets hurt, who should pay for that?
We believe it should be the individual who was negligent in the first place. The person who ran the red light, or the company that made the scalding hot coffee and changed a woman’s life forever, (more on this in part two of this series) was negligent. When an individual or an entity is unreasonably careless and harm is caused, the careless individual or entity should pay for whatever costs are incurred due to their actions. In the instance of person A and person B, person B should not have to pay because of the negligence of person A.
Even without going into the current state of health care in our country today (more on that in part three of this series), it is safe to say that lost wages and medical bills can add up quickly. With simply a month of lost wages or even one overnight stay in the hospital, hundreds of dollars can easily become thousands.
In tort lawsuits and cases, injured plaintiffs bringing their cases against defendants for damages may have considerable costs they are hoping to resolve. They’re going to court because they are not the one at fault and oftentimes the defendant’s insurance company has been stubbornly litigious and is unwilling to pay the plaintiff’s bills. For lawmakers who are pro-tort reform, these individuals have a fascination with dubbing tort lawsuits as frivolous cases or somehow believing they can play God and dictate the value of a human life. We do not think these are frivolous cases nor that legislative bodies have the right to pre-determine the maximum value of a human life. The expenses individuals are required to pay can dramatically affect their lives, liberty and the pursuit of their happiness.
A growing mountain of debt does not bode well for an encouraging future.
Frivolous lawsuits are a fable. Lawyers won’t take on frivolous lawsuits because, in the end, frivolous lawsuits won’t make the lawyers any money. And the injured plaintiff, if they are out of work due to an injury on the job – or, as you may remember from the 1992 incident of Stella Liebeck’s coffee purchase at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the scalding burns she experienced on her body from the hot drink and her entailing medical needs – these individuals experience piles of medical bills on top of their current costs of living. In Liebeck’s case, the hot coffee caused third-degree burns on the pelvic region of her body and she had to undergo hospital stays, skin grafting, and extensive medical treatment. How was this 76-year-old to continue to pay her rent, her light bill, her electric bill and shop for groceries when she was shelling out money for the medical care she never intended to endure when she bought coffee one day at a drive-thru?
If medical care becomes a necessity (and a reality) for weeks, months, years, or—God forbid—a lifetime, well, plaintiffs can do the math. Without a doubt, costs add up quickly. They’re hoping this tort lawsuit will come out in their favor. They’re hoping the full and fair settlement they deserve will absolve the burden of weight and bills from their shoulders.
Defenders of the Seventh Amendment: Legal Funding
If you are still in need of medical care or a cash advance to pay necessary bills, at Cherokee Funding, we will pay for your medical treatment and necessary living expenses while you are out of work and recovering. We have a network of healthcare providers who can help secure your options for any variety of treatments. We help you get treatment fast and we help you get the treatment you need. This type of work we do is non-recourse, which means that Cherokee Funding’s Cash Advance and Medical Treatment programs are not loans. Rather, we pay healthcare providers to do the work that they do best and advance cash to injured plaintiffs to pay necessary living expenses. If you win a settlement from your case, you pay us back. If your case is lost, you don’t pay us at all.
At Cherokee Funding, we’re here for you. The work we do is rooted in finding you flexibility while you and your attorney do the necessary work in order to secure your full and fair settlement. We stand behind our plaintiffs because we understand that it’s not easy once you’ve been injured to keep up with the cost of living, especially when regular monthly bills, like your mortgage payment, and hefty medical bills begin piling up on not only you, but also your family.
Reach out today if there are ways that we can be of service to you and your tort suit.
Stay tuned for part two of this three-part series where we delve into Stella Liebeck’s case, and the instance where “frivolous litigation” took an ugly turn on a senior citizen when she bought a cup of scalding hot coffee one day.