Tort reform in the us

Tort reform commonly refers to laws passed on a state-by-state basis which place limits or caps on the type or amount of damages that may be awarded in personal injury lawsuits. Those who advocate tort reform argue that limitations or caps need to be placed on damages able to be recovered in lawsuits because excessive damage awards create an oppressive tax on the cost of doing business. Advocates of tort reform attribute high costs of certain products or services to be due in part to litigation costs.

Tort reform in the us

Punitive damages and Jury A trial by jury is unusual in almost all countries Tort reform in the us non-criminal cases Another head of damages that can be awarded is called "punitive damages", or sometimes "exemplary damages".

The word "punitive" means punishment and the word "exemplary" implies that damages should "make an example" of the wrongdoer.

The purpose of such damages are twofold: In most jurisdictions, punitive damages are not available. They are considered contrary to public policy, because the civil justice system in many countries does not have the same procedural protections as the comparable criminal justice system.


Therefore, allowing punitive damages would have the effect of punishing actors for wrongful conduct without allowing them the ordinary procedural protections that are present in a criminal trial. The fear is that punitive damages encourage a vindictive, revenge seeking state of mind in the claimant and society more generally.

In the UK, Rookes v Barnard [21] limited the situations in which punitive damages can be won in tort actions to where they are expressly authorised by a statute, where a defendant's action is calculated to make profit, or where an official of the state has acted arbitrarily, oppressively or unconstitutionally.

In the United States, though rarely awarded in tort cases, punitive damages are available, and are sometimes quite staggering when awarded. In federal courts in the United States, the right to a jury trial in most civil cases is entrenched in the Seventh Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Tort reform - Wikipedia

Many state constitutions have similar clauses to protect the right to a jury trial in state court proceedings. In many countries, particularly in continental Europe, juries are not used at all even in criminal cases due to the cost of protracted trials necessitated with a jury present and confidence in judicial impartiality.

In the United Kingdom, juries are available in criminal cases and for tort cases involving defamationfalse imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

Tort reform in the us

Even in these limited areas of tort there have been growing concerns about the juries' role. In particular, the disparity between awards in defamation cases which invariably concern celebrities, politicians and the rich and awards for personal injuries has been growing.

Inevitably, the awards rose in a way that a fixed system of damages under judicial scrutiny does not allow. Juries are unseasoned with a daily exposure to tragic accidents in tort litigation. When confronted with their first case they may be shocked and outraged, which inspires a willingness to teach the wrongdoer by a big damages award that "tort does not pay".

There is no market for severed legs or sanity of mind, and so there is no price which a court can readily apply in compensation for the wrong. Some courts have developed scales of damages awards, benchmarks for compensation, which relate to the severity of the injury.

But while a scale may be consistent, the award itself is arbitrary. Patrick Atiyah has written that one could halve, or double, or triple all the awards and it would still make just as much sense as it does now.

Such agreements, while lawful in the US, are considered unethical in the European Union. Class action lawsuits in the United States[ edit ] Mass actions are lawsuits where a group of claimants band together to bring similar claims all at once.

Class actions are lawsuits where counsel for one or more claimants bring claims on behalf of similarly situated claimants.

These do not exist in most countries, and what will usually happen is that one case will be funded as a "test case", and if judgment falls in the claimants' favour the tortfeasor will settle remaining claims.

Tort reform in the us

Class actions are justified on the basis that they ensure equal treatment of similarly situated victims, avoid the risk of conflicting judgments on similar issues, and allow an efficient resolution of a large number of claims. In the US, class actions have been used and by some views abused in order to overcome the differences applicable in different jurisdictions, including the perceived predispositions of judges, juries, and differences in substantive or procedural law.

So if one claimant lives in State X, where courts and laws are unfavourable to their claim, but another claimant lives in the more favorable jurisdiction of State Y, they may bring a class action together in State Y. Strictly speaking, State Y must not adjudicate the claim unless it is found that the applicable law is similar or identical in both states, but as a practical matter this rule is often disregarded in favor of efficient resolution of claims.

Claimed inefficiency of legal system[ edit ] According to economist Reed Neil Olsen, " First, the law serves to compensate victims for their losses. Second, the threat of liability serves to deter future accidents.

According to a study of medical malpractice costs, "program administration—defense and underwriting costs—accounts for approximately 60 percent of total malpractice costs, and only 50 percent of total malpractice costs are returned to patients.

These costs are high even when compared with other tort-based systems, such as automobile litigation or airplane crashes, that determine fault and compensate victims.To fully understand tort reform, it only makes sense to begin with the definition of a tort itself. A tort is a non-criminal civil wrong that involves an injury – physical, mental, or monetary – that is caused either through purposeful or negligent conduct.

United States tort reform wars Stephen D Sugarman* In the United States (‘US’), for three decades, advocates on behalf of business and professional interests have been claiming that American tort law is out of control, imposing unjustified costs.

Tort reform, in the United States is a heated political issue as a result of the avocation of procedural limits on the ability to file claims and placing . Nov 01,  · We find that the passage of two medical tort reforms is correlated with a percent drop in employer contributions to health care premiums.

This decline suggests that tort reform could have a meaningful impact on health care costs.

What is a Tort?

Tort reform, in the United States is a heated political issue as a result of the avocation of procedural limits on the ability to file claims and placing a ceiling on the awards of damages. Tort reform has recently become a controversial issue in the legal arena. Tort reform commonly refers to laws passed on a state-by-state basis which place limits or caps on the type or amount of damages that may be awarded in personal injury lawsuits.

Which States Have Tort Reform: Where to Practice?