Last month, a Norfolk, Virginia woman won a $1.5 million jury verdict resulting from injuries incurred in a 2013 auto accident.
The woman was stopped in construction traffic when she was hit from behind by a Honda Crosstour going 60 mph. The Hondo driver said he never saw her; obviously the crash was the result of some sort of distraction, according to the plaintiff’s attorney. It is surprising that the woman only suffered two fractured bones in her left foot considering that it was difficult to differentiate the front from the back or her vehicle after the crash. Although the bones in her foot have healed, she still lives in pain on a daily basis. A second surgery may be an option, but chances of the pain going away is slim.
Fortunately this woman was able to rely on a jury of her peers to examine the facts and determine how much she should recover for her injuries, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. After a two-day trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $1.5 million in damages.
There are many people that may think that the verdict was too high; many others might think it was too low. Consider how much you use your feet in any given day. You get out of bed and walk to the bathroom, then to the kitchen to make your coffee. Next, it’s time to shower, get dressed, and brush your teeth. That all happens even before you leave the house; even before your work day begins (which may be a job requiring you to stand for much of the day). Maybe this woman had a job in which she was on her feet for eight hours. Maybe just pushing the gas pedal of her car causes pain. Maybe she jogged or worked out at the gym daily. Maybe she ran marathons. Is $1.5 million worth giving up the quality of life you once had? Is it enough to endure pain every time you put your foot to the floor? Would you trade healthy, pain-free feet for $1.5 million?
Our Founding Fathers understood the importance of the right to trial by jury. A victim submits his/her case and damages to a jury and a jury decides how much the loss is worth. Every injury, every injured person, every case is different; many factors must be considered when evaluating a case and reaching a settlement. Yet this fundamental right is under nearly constant attack today. Why? Because “tort reformers” suggest that the system is swimming in a sea of “frivolous lawsuits” and needs, therefore, to cap the damages that citizens can recover.
For those that need a reminder (especially before going to the polls today), tort reform is the legislative insertion of restrictions on litigation that prevents a judge or jury from being solely responsible for addressing the harm caused by one citizen against another or a corporation against a citizen. It is cleverly disguised by those who proffer it. Using terms like “frivolous lawsuit”, “runaway juries”, “lawsuit abuse” or “jackpot justice”, these corporately financed “tort reformers” seek to limit the amounts of money a citizen can receive in damages from a judge or jury. When “tort reform” bails out irresponsible individuals and corporation wrongdoers, victims are left in financial ruin and taxpayers end up with the bill in the form of Medicare and Medicaid.
On this, Election Day, consider these facts when you go to the polls. Is that the system you want? Justice should not be for sale – at any price! I ask you to strongly consider the reality of tort reform before casting your vote today.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He 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.