Mark A. Simon
The Truth About Tort Reform and Denver Personal Injury
Our laws are designed to protect our citizenry. Companies aren’t allowed to force anyone into unsafe working conditions, and if you experience a personal injury in Denver (or anywhere else in the United States) because of the negligence or fault of a company, you have the right to sue for damages and compensation. The tort reform is not a law; it is a group of laws and ideas designed to change the way our civil justice system works, engineered by big business and the insurance industry. Tort reform limits the ability to file insurance claims and places a ceiling cap on the amount awarded for damages and is intended to affect every citizen.
Every tort reform is different; but the core goals are to make it more challenging for injured people to file a lawsuit, make it more challenging for injured people to acquire a jury trial, and place a cap on the total amount of money awarded to injured people in a lawsuit. Citizens are continually misinformed on why tort reform is needed. Tort reform supporters claim that frivolous lawsuits are destroying our economy, our Justice System is overwhelmed by lawsuits, and if tort reform is passed, insurance costs will diminish. The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics conducted a study that disproved these tort reform myths and more.
Elected Colorado officials have passed tort reform laws in regards to noneconomic damages which “limits the noneconomic damages in breach of contract claims by specifying that noneconomic damages may only be recovered for breach of contract when recovery of such damages is specifically authorized in the contract that is the subject of the claim.” Non-economic damages include serious injuries, such as trauma, severe pain, disfigurement, blindness, or other physical impairments that affect everyday living. This cap is applied to every lawsuit no matter the extent of injuries and the scope of misconduct by the responsible party. Jurors in these cases may decide the victim is in need of a larger sum, but they are not allowed to be told about the cap. Less than 15% of the United States has a non-economic damages cap applied to all court cases like Colorado has. As victims have a constitutional right for a trial by jury, these caps have been found unconstitutional by other states.
Tort reform goals are extremely limited as those who have suffered an injury often require a substantial amount to cover their medical bills and maintain quality of life (many victims experience a loss of income and they need to cover the cost of living). Lawsuits awarding millions of dollars to the victim may seem frivolous; however, the money awarded must last the victim’s entire lifetime.
Caps on medical malpractice cases have also been implemented in Colorado. Unfortunately, patients are injured by medical negligence, whether by their healthcare provider or facility and the amount allowed for compensation is capped at $1,000,000. That may seem like a large sum, but remember there is a cap for non-economic damages which makes it extremely difficult for the victim to receive an acceptable compensation amount. According to a 2010 study of wrong-site and wrong-patient procedures in Colorado, it found that “the data revealed a persisting high frequency of surgical ‘never events.’” Never events are 100% preventable and are devastating to the victim.
Citizens of Denver have been affected by the nightmare of tort reform by being victimized by both negligence and our justice system. The insurance companies save money with these caps, meanwhile Colorado taxpayers and the injured victims pay the price in the end. Consider this: if someone is seriously injured as a result of medical or corporate negligence and was not compensated fully by the party at fault due to the caps in place, the injured party may seek compensation elsewhere, such as Medicaid. Medicaid is tax-funded and that means the costs of injuries are no longer being paid by the wrongdoers, but by the tax payers.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers like Mark A. Simon are in the fray every day championing injured peoples’ rights under the increasingly difficult rules imposed by successful tort reform measures. Mark A. Simon, Attorney at Law, knows how the insurance industry in Colorado works. We specialize in being your Denver personal injury attorney. Contact us today for a free consultation and expert advice.