Recently, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld a part of the 2005 Tort Reform bill passed by the Georgia Legislature.
Tort Reform generally refers to legislation passed by State and Federal legislatures to limit awards in medical malpractice, personal injury, and wrongful death legal cases.
Before discussing tort reform it is important to know what a “tort” is. “Tort” is the legal term for an error or action that injures another person. For example, if your neighbor is shooting his bb-gun in his yard and a stray bb hits you in the eye, your neighbor has likely committed a tort and would need to pay for your medical expenses and other costs you will incur as a result of his negligent action. One would hope that he would rush to your house, apologize profusely and make arrangements to pay your bills. However, this is not always the case. Often people who make these mistakes are defensive and want to hide from their responsibilities. They might feel badly, but know that it will be expensive to fix what they have done. So, they do not willingly pay.
Instead, you may be forced to go to see a plaintiff’s attorney. Those are the people who specialize in tort cases. If the attorney took your case, he or she would then sue the neighbor, and ask for compensation to pay for your injuries, sometimes called “pain and suffering.” If a jury found your neighbor guilty of the tort, then he would be ordered to pay.
It may seem like torts allow people who were unfairly harmed to be justly compensated, but many people think that tort suits only allow greedy people to take money that isn’t rightfully theirs. Doctor associations, such as the AMA, were especially critical of tort actions and lead the Tort Reform that swept the United States. They lobbied legislatures in all 50 states to limit the amount of money that injured patients could receive for their pain and suffering. In particular, punitive damages have been curtailed.
What does this mean for you? It probably means that if you were injured by a doctor during a medical procedure or because of a faulty diagnosis, you may be fighting a challenging battle to receive compensation for your injuries. In Georgia, there is a presumption that a doctor acted professionally. Because this presumption is so high, it usually requires the plaintiff to present expert witnesses to rebut the presumption and event then, many hurt people are unsuccessful in their claims.
It is Betts and Associates’ position that Tort Reform has hurt consumers, patients, and others who, because of no fault of their own, have been injured in some way. Betts and Associates believes that even though the battle for justice might be harder to fight in today’s political climate and courts, it is worth if for the sake of innocent people. If you think you are the victim of a tort, you may wish to contact Betts and Associates.