1/25/2011Does anyone out there see the hypocrisy that is rampant in the discussions about limiting recoveries for injured people? On the one hand, businesses (and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce) seek to free businesses from regulations and standards. They say, "Let the market place determine the success of a business." Yet on the other hand, these same businesses come screaming to the legislature seeking laws that will protect them. For the last ten years, Ohio's legislature and courts have dismantled Ohio's civil justice system to allegedly create a friendly atmosphere for business.
David P. Miraldi
David P. Miraldi
After all of the changes wrought by these laws, Ohio is still losing jobs. The temptation will be to pass more draconian laws that strip away the rights of Ohio citizens. I can hear what business groups will say: "Let's make Ohio even friendlier to corporations. Let's protect them even more from their negligence and limit their exposure when they do harm someone." Of course, they won't use those phrases. They will say, "Let's protect them even more from frivolous lawsuits." However, the real effect of these laws will be to drastically affect legitimate, meritorious lawsuits. Almost all frivolous lawsuits are thrown out of the court system before any trial takes place, but that fact is not part of the discussion.
Ohioans - enough is enough. Look at what so-called Tort Reform passed in 2005 did for us. ( For non-lawyers -- torts is an area of law that encompasses injury claims where another party is at fault for causing the injury.) The big blow was a limit on non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are payments for pain, suffering, and inability to do things. Our legislature limits this amount in almost all cases to $250,000 or three times economic damages, but capped at $350,000.
Some of you may think this is adequate. Let me provide you with some terrible miscarriages that have occurred in my practice after the passage of tort limitation laws Both involved children. One teenage girl sustained terrible burns to her scalp due to a defective hair bleaching product. She underwent four surgeries to minimize the huge bald spot that was on the back of her head. However, she was limited to $250,000 in non-economic damages even though she had undergone incredible pain from the burns and the surgeries -- not to mention the indignity of the bald spot until the condition could be corrected. In another case, a radiologist misread an x-ray and as a result a nine year old boy has been deprived of any physical sporting activities for the rest of his life. His hip bone was eaten away because of this mistake. The boy lost much of his childhood, but this was not compensable under our new laws.
For the next few weeks, I will discuss each of the changes brought on by Tort "Reform" and show you how these laws hurt everyday people.
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