Middle Class Americans Caught In The Middle Of Tort Reform

In an interesting turn of events, a Harvard law professor suggests it’s about time lawyers did something about how they are perceived. Too much time is spent protecting jurisdictions instead of solving problems.

Unfortunately, there is a prevailing myth that lawyers are ambulance chasers and take frivolous cases to court to get paid big bucks. There are a number of things wrong with that thought. First, most lawyers do not chase ambulance for business. Most of them have more than they can handle at any given time. Secondly, while there may be some cases that seem questionable on first blush in terms of being successful in court, typically, a lawyer takes a case because there appears to be merit in it and/or a point of law.

As for making big bucks, that is not the case. Many lawyers get a portion of a settlement on winning for a client; a portion that goes right back into the firm to help it represent other clients who need them. Granted big cases sometimes have big wins, but it should be remembered that a big firm with a big case and a big track record for winning, will also have big office overhead.

But back to the concept that lawyers need to change how they are perceived. There may well be some truth in that observation. The law professor went on to point out that not much time is spent preventing problems in the justice system, because everyone is too busy protecting their behinds. How does that impact on lawyers? If you want the justice system to work in any given state, the money to do that has to come from the legislature. If the legislature perceives lawyers as money-grubbing talking heads out just for fame and fortune, state courts will continue to face underfunding and staggering case loads.

Justice is needed at all levels of the legal system, but as it exists right now, the middle class are slammed between a rock and a hard place when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits. In many states, there has been med mal caps implemented that are designed to cap damages for victims of medical negligence. For those plaintiffs who are so severely injured that they need care for the rest of their lives, capping medical malpractice damages is an outrageous travesty of justice.

What is even more frightening is that there are also some states that are currently contemplating bringing in a loser pays law. Think about that for a minute. The seriously injured victim goes to court with a medical malpractice case and for some reason, the case is lost. The loser pays approach would mean the victim would pay the price, twice. Once as a victim of medical negligence and for the second time as a severely injured victim who lost a court case. And the victim gets huge sums of money from where?

What is happening here is that these kinds of restrictive laws are trying to scare victims away; victims that don’t have the ability to access money to pursue a valid claim in court. What does that say about the justice system?

Robert Webb is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer with Webb & D’Orazio, a law firm specializing in Atlanta personal injury, malpractice, criminal defense, and business law. Learn more at Webbdorazio.com.

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