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Does Tort Reform Really Work?

Many people are speaking up about the myriad problems associated with tort reform. Observer.com recently posted an opinion piece written in opposition to tort reform.  According the the piece, tort reform originally took off in the 1980's, when California started to impose a $250K cap on the amount that victims of negligence could claim. After that, over half of other states created similar guidelines using their own measures for capping damages.  This, in turn, reduced the amount of time that clients could bring forth a legal claim, and in some cases, reduced the money that lawyers could be paid for representing their clients.  
Many measures of the efficacy of tort reform look at the amount and type of treatment that patients receive in emergency rooms in states that either do or don't have tort reform laws.  According to various reports, tort reform restrictions do not appear to make a difference in the type of care and corresponding cost of care for each ER visit. From this data, researchers have inferred that removing the risk of a doctor getting sued does not appear to change their delivery of care.  Many researchers have also noted that tort reform also tends to slow progress in patient safety initiatives.  To read more from the original article and its research basis, please click this link
For those who are unfamiliar, tort reform is a process that involves placing a limit on the dollar amount that a person who files a civil lawsuit can recover.  This affects personal injury claims very often, like in lawsuits for car accidents. When a person files a civil suit, they have the opportunity to collect both economic damages, like lost wages, as well as compensatory damages, like pain and suffering.  Additionally, there are also cases in which you can pursue punitive damages, which are supposed to act as a deterrent for the defendant to not act in the same negligent manner again.  Tort reform places a limit specifically on all non-economic damages, and is governed by state-specific laws.  
Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer who takes cases for people in central and western Pennsylvania who have been seriously injured due to the fault or negligence of others.  For more information on his Altoona, PA law firm, please call his office at 814-946-4100. 

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