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The battle over damage caps has been going back and forth in legislatures for decades. As “tort reformers” push for more damage caps, trial attorneys and consumer rights advocates fight for the rights of innocent victims. A few states have done the right thing, most recently Missouri, and ruled these caps as unconstitutional.

The Missouri ruling came in a case involving a baby that was born with severe brain injuries as a result of medical negligence. The state Supreme Court said the law — which placed a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages in jury awards — violated the right to trial by jury. Now, it appears that Missouri Republicans are hell-bent on reinstating the damage caps.

By placing a limit on the amount that wrongdoers would be required to pay, state legislatures remove any incentive for corporations to put safety over profits. After all, if a corporation causes $10 million dollars worth of damage but is only legally required to pay $350,000, what would stop them from continuing to do business as usual?

If the “best day in court” would only result in $350,000, and the plaintiff has to endure years of litigation, the system is creating a chilling effect on the litigation and, in a real sense, penalizing the injured party for having the audacity to sue the wrongdoer. Tort reform

  • makes it difficult for injured victims to file a lawsuit and obtain a jury trial.
  • places limits on the amount of full compensation injured victims could receive.
  • unreasonably and unnecessarily boosts insurance company and big business profits.
  • insulates corporate wrongdoers from accountability.
  • Shifts burden of care from the wrongdoer to the taxpayers.

In any personal injury or wrongful death case, reducing liability is a bad idea. Damage caps are simply an attempt to carve out select groups and grant immunity from negligence. Caps allow negligent doctors to keep practicing medicine, defective products to stay on the market, and limits accountability to the American people. Our civil justice system is designed in part to provide redress for injuries caused by wrongdoers; when it fails to do so, the system is broken.

Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen 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 legal finance 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.

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