They are at it again. It seems like every day comes news of some small front-group for big interests trying to make hay about some evil that has been caused by community members exercising their right to the civil justice system. Sometimes medical malpractice lawsuits are the target, while at other times it is anyone who dares to seek accountability from a corporation whose rights are at stake.
No matter what, however, it is important for all of us to stand up and push back. None of us know for sure what tomorrow will hold. Hopefully, we will all get up, head to work or begin the day’s activity, and arrive at the end having made a difference, made memories, and committed to continuing ahead. Sadly, for some of us, the next day will bring tragedy, pain, heartbreak, and perhaps even death. Whether it be a car accident, medical error, accidental fall, or any number of other possibilities, every day things happen which could have been prevented, are not, and cause severe damage.
While it might be convenient to ignore that reality, in the real world we must address these issues. One of the ways our society does so is by ensuring legal accountability following harm caused by preventable conduct. For example, if you drive irresponsibly and cause an auto accident that leads another to suffer a traumatic brain injury, then you may be held legally responsible for repaying the damage of that accident as fully as possible. The rules are no different for individual community members as they are for large corporations. When a big business (or an employee) makes a mistake and causes harm, they need to be held fully accountable for that harm.
Corporations do not like being held to the same standards as everyone else, however. They is why they are pushing “tort reform” laws which do nothing more than change the rules so that they do not have to pay for the full consequences of the damage they cause. No one should stand for that. In a recent letter to the editor published by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association defended the rights of all Illinoisans, reminding readers that “It’s often only through our courts that citizens can get even footing, particularly when taking on such powerful special interests. No entity, government official or business should be permitted to use its power to infringe upon the right of citizens to have their day in court.”
Whenever you hear the words “tort reform” it is important to immediately remember the underlying goal: limit corporate accountability. All manner of harm, from brain injuries and broken bones to cancer have in one incident or another been linked to widespread corporate malfeasance. There is nothing wrong with using the legal system to demand accountability when that happens. No matter how hard those defendants try to discourage people from using the system to demand fairness, in the end justice will and should prevail.
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