In the world of personal injury law, tort reform is a hot topic. But what does tort reform mean for a victim who brings a personal injury lawsuit against someone who caused them harm? It can certainly have an impact on victims’ perceptions of their rights and even their ability to sue. If you have been injured due to another’s negligence, it is essential to work with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the intricacies of tort law.
If you believe you have a personal injury case but aren’t sure how to proceed, setting up a consultation with a Buttafuoco & Associates personal injury attorney in Northern New Jersey could be helpful. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.
What is Tort Law?
In order to understand tort reform, it’s important to have a strong understanding of what tort law is. In a nutshell, tort law covers claims that appear in civil court (often personal injury cases), with the exception of contract disputes. The goal of tort law is to give victims an avenue for rectifying a wrong that has been done to them by another. Typically, this means filing a lawsuit and being awarded monetary compensation for the harm that was done.
Under tort law, anyone who is found at fault for harming another must compensate the victim. Some specific harms that are often addressed in tort cases include loss of income, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
What is Tort Reform?
Tort reform began in the 1970s when insurance companies and large corporations sought to limit personal injury lawsuits by attacking the civil justice system. Supporters of tort reform argued that the civil justice system–whereby citizens can sue if they are injured by another party and be compensated for harm done to them–was corrupt and harmful to the economy.
Tort reform intended to change civil justice laws, thereby making it more challenging for personal injury victims to file a lawsuit. Tort reforms attempt to limit damages injured parties can receive for their injuries, or reduce other types of damages such as punitive damages (which punish the negligent party for their wrongful actions). Some tort reforms have also focused on making jury trials harder to secure.
The biggest impact of tort reform has been that it has made many injured victims question their right to sue, when in reality they are fully justified in demanding justice and compensation. By and large, regardless of tort reforms, victims can and should continue to hold those who injured them responsible. A good New Jersey personal injury attorney can help ensure that victims’ rights are upheld.
What is the Impact of Tort Reform on Personal Injury Cases?
How tort reform has affected personal injury law depends on the state. In the state of New Jersey, tort reform has not made it impossible for victims to sue, but victims in other states have experienced issues.
One major example of how tort reform has impacted personal injury law is medical malpractice law. Due to tort reform pressures, some states placed caps on the amount of compensation victims can recover in medical malpractice cases. The unfortunate result of these caps is that lawyers (who only get paid if they win a case, and only receive a percentage of the amount awarded) are less likely to take on smaller cases. In some cases, they will not take on medical malpractice cases at all, which leaves victims in a tricky position.
In states with malpractice lawsuit caps, victims are significantly less likely to sue. New Jersey does not have a cap on how much a victim can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit (though we do have a $350,000 cap on punitive damages). This means there is no shortage of attorneys to take on these cases.
In personal injury law in general, tort reform has not had a huge impact. Most states have no caps on economic or non-economic damages a plaintiff can recover in personal injury lawsuits. By and large, tort reform is a campaign on the part of insurance companies and corporations to prevent people from seeking civil justice from their injuries. This of course results in increased profits for corporations.
It’s important to not become overly concerned about tort reform campaigns, and to understand that if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, it is your right to file a lawsuit to be compensated for the harm you have endured.
Do I Have a Case?
If you’ve been injured but are concerned that you may not have a case, it is typically in your best interest to speak with a personal injury attorney serving New Jersey. At Buttafuoco & Associates, we have represented injury victims for decades and believe in fighting for the rights of those who need it most. We offer free consultations and can provide direction if you are experiencing a legal dilemma.
Call 1-800-NOW-HURT today.