Noneconomic Damages Reform
There has been over three decades of debate over a reform that affects everything from insurance and health care premiums to the prices of goods and services. The Tort law gives civilians the right to put liability on a company and sue for a multitude of different things if something goes wrong. A main issue of the tort reform is noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages are awards granted for “pain and suffering.” A solution to this ongoing problem is to set a cap, or ceiling, on the amount of compensation one can receive for his or her “pain and suffering.” An issue with setting caps is that they are argued against as “unconstitutional” and “violates the right to trial by jury” (Hudson) stated in the sixth amendment of the Constitution.
The beginning of the idea of Tort reform is said to have been started by Stella Liebeck when she sued McDonald’s for medical bills she incurred after she spilled boiling hot coffee on her lap and suffered major third degree burns on her inner thighs. Hilary Stout explains that after an extensive investigation into McDonald;s records, Liebeck’s attorney found additional complaints from people saying the coffee was too hot and caused burns on a persons hand, or leg. Studies during this investigation show that at that certain location, the coffee was held 20 degrees higher that what is stated in the instructional handbook that every McDonald’s employee should be familiar with. The court soon came to a decision that the incident was 20 percent Liebeck’s fault, and 80 percent McDonald’s fault. As a result from this decision, the jury awarded Liebeck 2.9 million dollars in noneconomic damages (Stout). After this case hit the news, magazines, tabloids, etc., labeled the c...
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...orm, it causes lower, more predictable liability costs that make it, “cheaper and easier for potential injurers to obtain insurance for their own liability (Rubin and Shepherd 224). If it is cheaper to obtain insurance for liability it will result in lower prices for, “both vaccines and prescription drugs” (Rubin and Shepherd 224). In a state that has adopted tort reform, emergency physicians find that, “direct reforms lead to increased growth in the supply of emergency medicine physicians of approximately 11.5%” (Rubin and Shepherd 224). This benefits everything from state hospitals, to individuals. If the prices of vaccines and prescription drugs decrease, then more people will be able to afford the appropriate medication to cure their injuries; which, in turn, will decrease the amount of lawsuits filed against physicians due to negligence or being held liable.
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