Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) has signed into law a tort reform package, known as The Patients First Reform Package that builds upon the state’s 1993 tort reform law. Now the law:
- Alters how juries can award damages
- Limits what can be counted as a non-economic damage. Loss of household, companionship and consortium are now considered noneconomic damages and subject to the state’s liability cap.
- Limits the amount of compensation a plaintiff can receive as a result of losing a loved one due to medical malpractice.
- Sets strict time limits on filing on behalf of a deceased patient
- Bans prejudgment interest and attorney fees incurred before a judgment is issued.
Colin J. Ford, senior director of state and federal government relations for the Michigan State Medical Society, said “Our legislative package preserves the ability of a patient to have access to the courts, but puts reasonable requirements in place to assure that our courts treat physicians fairly in Michigan.”
How does tort reform benefit injured patients? How does it keep patients safe? Tort reform has nothing to do with preserving a plaintiff’s access to the courts and everything to do with limiting patient rights to the justice. This new law, like every other tort reform law, is just propaganda for a corporate power agenda; it strictly protects corporations from their own negligence and from victims who try to fight back.
Once again the American people are being misinformed. Fortunes have been spent on lobbying efforts and attempts to brainwash a seemingly unconcerned public. There are not too many medical malpractice lawsuits; there is too much medical malpractice. Restricting access to justice won’t improve patient safety; it will, simply, restrict a patient’s ability to get compensation for it. How does softening the penalty help prevent the crime?
Damage caps won’t eliminate medical mistakes; lower levels of compensation to victims will increase them. Instead of keeping patients safe, instead of assuring that victims of medical errors receive fair compensation, bad doctors and their political pundits blame trial lawyers and cry “frivolous” whenever a lawsuit is filed. When doctors and hospitals are free of accountability, our rights and our safety slowly dissipate.
Victims deserve the right to tell their story; to exercise their right to trial by jury under the Seventh Amendment. They have a right, when facing a life-long disability caused by a medical mistake, to prove their case to a judge or jury and receive full and fair compensation. Limiting that compensation amounts to a taxpayer funded bailout, as public assistance programs must pick up the support that negligent doctors and hospitals are excused from. That’s the genesis of this “tort reform” movement. The negligent doctors and hospitals could not get a free pass from the justice system, so they did what other greedy, wealthy corporations have done. They contributed heavily to corrupt politicians and bought themselves a bailout, a “get out of jail free” card. That card is called by several names: liability reform, tort reform, etc. I have never heard it referred to as “patients first”, because the notion is utterly ridiculous. Make no mistake, this is “doctors first”, last, always and forever reform. It is in no way, shape or form, “patients first” legislation. And the name of the bill tells you how far these despots will go to deceive an unsuspecting public. Patients and patient safety are the big losers here, as they are in any tort reform effort.
Our justice system is the only means to level the playing field and ensure that a victim who suffers life changing injuries is fully protected under the law. Yet, we citizens (who are left holding the bill for the negligent care providers) sit idly by and let them get away with it. It is our responsibility as citizens to ask where our elected officials stand on the issues. If you or someone you love was the victim of life-changing medical malpractice, would you want your recovery artificially limited because your state senator, state representative or governor voted to restrict your right to full and fair compensation? Of course you wouldn’t. So, this begs the question: Why do you keep voting for these guys?
Mark Bello has thirty-six years experience as a trial lawyer and fourteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice and Public Citizen, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.