A young man was rear-ended when he stopped for a traffic back-up on the highway. A tractor-trailer slammed into him without any attempt to slow down or apply the brakes. The young man’s neck snapped and he instantly became a quadriplegic.
What a heart wrenching ordeal for the young man and his family. The young man needs 24 hour per day, 7 days per week care and was forced to file a personal injury lawsuit to obtain compensation for this very necessary care. Years later, after a jury trial and several appeals, the young man finally received his seven-figure award. Hopefully, it will suffice to provide lifetime care. A sudden, unexpected accident totally and catastrophically disables a previously healthy young man. Even more devastating, the accident was caused by the negligence of an inattentive driver. It is natural to want to blame the negligent driver; it is natural to seek justice, to seek compensation. It is a multi-million dollar burden to care for a quadriplegic. The victim will pain and suffer and need around the clock care for the rest of his life. While other young men are finishing school, meeting women, getting married, starting careers, starting families, this young man is starting a new life as a helpless, family burden.
If you follow the logic of those who support so-called "tort reform" (restrictions on people’s rights to pursue litigation and restrictions on what compensation they can receive) they argue that "frivolous lawsuits" or "lawsuit abuse" are costing all of us money by assessing offending businesses with a "lawsuit tax" that is passed on to the consumer. In the cited case, the "offending business" would be the trucking company that rear-ended the young man. The company now has to pay millions for the young man’s support. As tort reform logic goes, this cost would be passed on to the consumer because the trucking company must pay more for insurance or must pay a large deductible on its insurance policy.
But, fellow citizens, if the burden does not fall on the negligent, inattentive, trucker and his employer, those responsible for the accident and its consequences, then who? The answer is something that most of you probably haven’t considered: The burden would fall on the shoulders of the young man’s health insurance company and/or the taxpayers (Medicare or Medicaid). And what would that do? It would raise the cost of private and/or public health insurance and place cost burdens upon providers who had nothing to do with causing this catastrophic event.
In either scenario, a totally disabled man must get 24/7 care. In any scenario, medical and support costs for this young man will be enormous. An unregulated legal system places the entire burden of his care on the person and/or company that caused the catastrophe. The alternative "tort reform" solution places minimal burden on those responsible (at an artificial "capped" number) and the majority of the burden on the victim, his health insurance and health care providers, his family, and the American taxpayer. In other words, it spreads the burden, placing the majority of the expense and raising costs on those who were in no way responsible for the event.
In our society, someone must care for those who cannot care for themselves. The question is: Who should it be? I don’t care whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Libertarian; which system do you think is fairest to all concerned? If you are in favor of smaller government, less taxes, and personal responsibility, why would you support proposals that permit the legislative branch to infringe on the judicial branch? Why would you support proposals that shift the burden of the cost of care from the person and/or company that is personally responsible for the accident to the taxpayer or a health insurance carrier? Why would any of you ever support the concept known as "tort reform"?
Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve 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 plaintiffs 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, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, 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.