The Problems With Tort Reform

The purpose of Tort law is to bring down injury rates by finding the wrongdoer legally accountable, yet many tort reforms laws can have the opposite effect.

The legal way of saying personal injury law is "tort law." It lays down the duties of a person who injures another. In our country, tort law serves to:

  • Hold companies and individuals financially liable to anyone their actions injure so that they will conduct themselves responsibly.
  • Provide financial help and thus, justice to the party wrongfully injured by another.

What Is Tort Reform?

Tort reform occurs when the legislature passes a law or a court issues a ruling that limits in some way the rights of an injured person to seek compensation from the person who caused the accident. For example, in 1996 the United States Supreme Court engaged in tort reform when it ruled that excessively high punitive damages violate the substantive due process clause of the Constitution.

Closer to home, the Florida legislature engaged in tort reform in 2003, when it passed a law limiting the amount of financial compensation medical malpractice victims can seek.

Legislatures around the country have engaged in all types of tort reform. Some common types of tort reform include shortening the time frames within which an injured person must file a lawsuit; making it more difficult for an injured person to get a trial by jury, and limiting attorneys' fees in tort cases.

What Are The Negative Effects Of Tort Reform

Looking at the big picture, most tort reform acts have the potential to increase injury rates among Americans. Tort law was originally developed specifically to decrease injury rates by holding the responsible party legally liable.

Time and again in our nation's history, individual and class action tort cases have uncovered life-threatening hazards that otherwise would have remained undetected.

  • If it wasn't economically feasible for a tort lawyer to investigate the Ford Motor Company, Ford Pintos would possibly still be exploding.
  • If tort attorneys had never sued Bridgestone/Firestone, perhaps the tire company would have delayed its recall of dangerous tires.
  • Tort lawyers discovered the negative health consequences of the diet drug fen-phen and countless other prescription medications and over-the-counter remedies.

Moving from the big picture to the level of the individual who has suffered serious injury because of someone else's careless or reckless behavior — no reliable data exists on the number of accident victims who choose not to file a lawsuit because tort reform laws obstruct their opportunity to get fair financial compensation. How many people have been driven out of work, into bankruptcy, and had their families destroyed because the American legal system did not support them when they needed financial support?

Greenberg Stone & Urbano · A South Florida Personal Injury Law Firm

The attorneys of Greenberg Stone & Urbano are dedicated to protecting the rights of our individual clients as well as fighting to keep our state's tort system as fair as possible. If you have questions about a specific type of injury lawsuit, or about tort reform issues, call (305) 692-0055or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced lawyers.


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