The civil justice system has become has become the focal point contention and dispute waged largely by corporations, insurance companies, and big businesses that have interests in shielding themselves from liability when their actions, products, or companies cause preventable harm. As a personal injury law firm that has recovered over half a billion dollars in compensation for clients across Nevada, Shook & Stone is passionate about protecting the rights of the injured and the wronged as they make their voices heard in civil courts. Unfortunately, several bills being considered by Congress could substantially limit those rights.
Since the recent Presidential election, lawmakers have been mulling over proposed bills that aim to limit injured victims’ ability to seek justice in civil courts. Much of the proposed legislation is backed by corporate interests and business groups that have a financial interest in putting profits over people and limiting or even preventing personal injury lawsuits. Here are a few key details about the proposed legislation:
Protecting Access to Care Act
The Protecting Access to Care Act directly targets medical malpractice lawsuits by capping awards for noneconomic damages at $250,000. What this means is that when a medical professional’s negligence causes you or a loved one preventable injuries or illnesses, you will not be able to recover any more than $250,000 for emotional injuries sustained by you or your loved ones, including pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, loss of support, mental anguish, and more.
As a firm that has worked with many medical malpractice and personal injury victims, we know that preventable injuries, particularly when they lead to catastrophic injuries or even wrongful death, can forever change the lives of victims and families in the most profound ways. By limiting noneconomic damages, the proposed act would prevent courts from fully considering the tremendous losses and emotional injuries sustained by victims. The law would also remove the power of decision making from the hands of citizens who serve on juries, and place that power with politicians, lobbyists, and corporate powers that pushed for these changes.
Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act
Another proposed piece of legislation making headlines is the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, which would greatly reduce options for class action lawsuits, or lawsuits filed for hundreds to thousands of victims collectively. Should the law pass, class actions would be permitted in federal courts only when each victim suffers nearly the same type of injury as other victims. Imposing this unreasonable rule would make it exceedingly difficult to obtain class action status, thereby reducing the ability of plaintiffs to use an effective tool for justice when facing off against corporate powers and forcing them to file individual lawsuits, regardless of the difficulties and expenses associated with doing so.
Ultimately, these bills fall in line with civil justice reform rhetoric – the same rhetoric that is bolstered by corporate interests and the flood of money into politics. The civil justice system is the platform on which everyday people can make their voices heard, even when they go up against large and resourceful corporations. By limiting victims’ rights and opportunities for justice, these proposed bills harm victims, and create a dangerous precedent for bestowing protections and legal privileges to powers that pay.
At Shook & Stone, we encourage everyone to spread the word about these efforts to limit victims’ rights. To get involved, you can also support local organization or call your local representative to express your opinions. While these laws are still being considered, and regardless of their outcome, our firm will always be available to help victims and families harmed by negligence as they fight for the compensation they rightfully deserve.