Open access to the civil justice system makes everyone safer. Our Chicago brain injury lawyers firmly believe that the courts are one of the few places where everyone-no matter how rich or powerful-is on a level playing field. As such, it is in the courtroom where those who engage in unreasonable practices that hurt others can be held accountable for the consequences of their actions. Knowing that there may be consequences for harm caused to others incentivizes everyone, from individuals to businesses, to act appropriately to avoid the harm.
Unfortunately, some big interest groups have been waging war against this principle for years. Instead of investing in ways to act more appropriately (like, for example, improving hospital safety standards), these interests are seeking to avoid accountability altogether by taking away legal rights from those hurt by their misconduct. In many cases this might include Illinois brain injury victims whose injuries were caused by the negligence of others, including doctors in medical malpractice cases.
Over the last year we have been discussing the latest federal attempt at forcing these tort reforms measures on all state across the country. Packaged as House Resolution 5 (H.R. 5), the measure would impose a string of damage caps, limitations, and other changes on every state in Union-an egregious breach of the principle of federalism and a dangerous proposition for all those who care about fair access to the civil justice system.
The American Association for Justice is now reporting that, after stalling for a year, H.R. 5 appears to be on the fast-track. A vote on the floor of the House of Representatives is expected as early as next week. Those pushing the bill argue that it is necessary to save on healthcare spending. However, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that, at best, only one half of one percent of federal health spending will be affected by these tort reform measures. Even then, far more money can be saved by eliminating errors instead of eliminating legal rights. The Institute of Medicine has explained how as many as 98,000 people die every year as a result of preventable medical errors. The cost of those medical errors amounts to $300 billion annually. That figure dwarfs any savings from tort reform. The $300 billion does not even account for the hundreds of thousands of patients injured by errors who survive but still require extra care as a result of the mistakes.
Instead of meddling with the justice system, lawmakers should direct much more focus on actually make medical care better. This approach not only would save money, but it would save lives without decimating principles of fairness and justice.
Everyone is urged to take a moment to send a message to your member of Congress today to voice your opposition to the bill. Please follow this link to contact your representative and let them know that taking away basic legal rights is not in the best interest of our community or the country. Remember that the vote will happen in a just a few day, so there is no time to delay.
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