What is “Tort Reform?” When you hear the words “tort reform” or “legal reform,” replace them every time with “my family and I will give up our legal right to wrongdoers accountable in court for harm done to us.”
Lawmakers in congress and state legislatures across the country are under constant pressure from special interest lobbyist to limit the rights of American citizens to access our legal system and to hold wrongdoers responsible for harm caused if they do manage to have their case heard in front of a jury.
Insurance Companies are happy and friendly when you are paying premiums year after year, but if you have ever tried to make a claim for a significant loss, you know first-hand how difficult it can be and what lengths they will go to avoid paying legitimate claims. They fight all claims — even the very legitimate ones. The media has reported that a major Insurance Company (one that claims to be a “good neighbor”) recently forged inspectors’ reports to avoid paying valid hurricane claims. Contrary to their ad campaign, this is not how good neighbors treat one another.
Most people may not know that lawyers who represent injured people (plaintiff’s lawyers) have to be extremely selective about the cases they take or they could be out of business quickly. Plaintiff’s lawyers work on a contingency, meaning they do not get paid a dime unless they win the case with a settlement or jury verdict. Since most people could never afford to sue an Insurance Company or Big Corporation, the contingency fee contract is the only way they can have a chance for their day in court.
Most, if not all, defendants in civil cases have insurance and the Insurance Company is paying their lawyers to fight the case. The Insurance Companies typically hire the biggest corporate law firms and pay the lawyers hundreds of dollars an hour, and cover all the costs, to fight the case. However, because of Florida’s “non-joinder” law, the jury is never allowed to know the defendant has insurance, or that the Insurance Company is defending the case. Most of the big corporate law firms that represent insurance companies have their own websites touting their services and marketing for business from other insurance companies. This creates a real David versus Goliath scenario where the individual or consumer is up against far greater manpower and resources.
Also, plaintiff’s lawyers advance all the costs in the case and risk losing them all if they lose at trial. Most civil cases can take 2 or 3 years, or even longer, to get to trial. Insurance Companies know the plaintiffs’ lawyers are not getting paid and fight to delay cases as long as possible in hopes that the lawyer or the injured person will give up. For these reasons, most, if not all, plaintiff’s lawyers have to be very careful about only taking good cases where people have very real injuries to have a realistic shot a recouping the costs and winning the case. Lawyers who take “frivolous cases” or even marginal cases go out of business quickly for these reasons.
Our legal system is built on centuries of tradition. It works as a fundamental check on the power of both business and government.
Our system truly works and American citizens should not be misled by the propaganda in media and print. The courts, judges, lawyers and our system represent the best system in the world which requires proof of fault, causation and injury and should be allowed to work without the interference of special interest groups, insurance companies and corporations.
For more information about civil lawsuits and tort reform, contact Baron, Herskowitz, and Cohen today.