Illinois traumatic brain injury victims, like all personal injury victims, often have a direct stake in the debate around so-called “tort reform” efforts. Contrary to the public portrayal made by some, at the root of these efforts is a simple premise: made it harder (if not impossible) for certain injury victims to receive any justice against their wrongdoers. Those calling for tort reform are striving for that goal in slow steps on a variety of fronts. Damage caps are called for which limit the amount that a negligent party has to pay, no matter how much damage they cause. Rule changes are sought which increase the requirements of filing suit, acting as a barrier which keeps certain victims out of court altogether. At the end of the day these efforts are not about fairness but saving money for those who are frequent defendants. The companies, industries, and individuals who harm others negligently are focused on their own bottom line, not justice for regular community members.
Knowing the motives of these efforts makes it all the more frustrating for each Illinois brain injury lawyer at our firm to read things like the “Judicial Hellhole” report which seek to demonize certain courts in our state. As the president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association Jerry Latherow explained in a recent editorial published in the State Journal-Register, the “report” is nothing more than a recycled public relations stunt to gin up controversy once again. The goal is always to influence public opinion in ways that allow these interests to hammer through new laws which undermine access to the court system.
Time and again the claims made by this “report” have been shown to be based on junk science.
For example, one argument made is that because Illinois courts are a so-called “judicial hellholes,” then jobs are lost from the state. Is this true? Of course not. A recent National Federation of Independent Business survey of actual job creators found that fear about litigation did not even make the list of considerations that these businesses make when deciding where to expand and bring jobs. Things like tax concerns and energy prices were actual concerns.
It should not surprise readers that the funding for these studies comes from a virtual “Who’s Who” of big businesses that have a lot to gain by demonizing Illinois injury lawyers and taking away rights of those who are hurt buy their misconduct. There is nothing wrong with businesses working hard to increase their profits. However, there is a problem when they feel free to avoid responsibility for their errors as part of their plan to increase profits. If a business or industry acts negligently and hurts an innocent victim, that business should pay for the consequences of their mistakes. It is that simple. If these industries would spend as much time improving their services and safety that they put into attacking Illinois injury victims, they might actually save the money they are hoping to save. Instead, they continue to work to fund ridiculous efforts (like this latest report) in order to sway public opinion to believe things about the tort system that are simply untrue.
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