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Tort Reform

Definition - What does Tort Reform mean?

Tort reform are ideas limiting injured parties from filing lawsuits or limiting the amount of money injured parties can win.

Tort reform has been a contentious debate within the United States for years among legal professionals and legislative leaders. Tort reform ideas and suggested laws have been discussed and debated, but no one can agree on how or what laws should be enacted or what should be done to actually reform the system.

Due to what some would call outrageous cases for compensation, there have been increased efforts to limit an injured party’s rights to seek redress in court for injuries caused by civil wrongs.

Tort reform is not a single law or idea. When leaders or experts discuss tort reform they are generally proposing different means to limit the ability of injured parties to file a lawsuit, to obtain a jury trial, or to limit the amount of money injured parties can receive following a personal injury.

What is a tort?

A tort is a non-criminal civil wrong which is the result of negligent, unintentional, or intentional actions of another person.

The injury caused by the action must result in some type of loss, including physical, mental, or monetary. If the injured party can prove certain elements of their case (i.e., the defendant owed them a duty, the defendant breached their duty, and the breach caused injury or loss) the plaintiff may be able to file a civil injury claim against the defendant and recover compensation for their injuries.

Common examples of tort cases include:

  • Medical malpractice claims
  • Car accident claims
  • Premise liability cases
  • Libel or slander claims
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Trucking accidents
  • Contract disputes
  • Product liability claims

Who wants tort reform?

The parties who fight for tort reform are generally those who pay or lose the most when a civil claim is lost- insurance companies and large corporations. These groups argue tort reform is critical to eliminating frivolous lawsuits, which costs businesses millions of dollars, costs which are ultimately passed to the consumer who must purchase products and insurance.

Critics of tort reform argue the measures do little to reduce the costs for consumers, while advocates contend tort reforms deny plaintiffs their rights to recover compensation for their injuries.

Types of Tort Reform

Common types of tort reform include:

  • Decreasing the statutes of limitations for filing a civil claim
  • Capping non-economic damages
  • Llimiting the amount of fees a personal injury attorney can charge to argue a case
  • Making apology statements inadmissible
  • Changing rules relating to forum shopping, joint and several liability, and expert witnesses

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