Causes of Tort Law Reforms

Causes of Tort Law Reforms

Introduction

Tort is a common word within the general law that refers to a civil wrong. Civil wrong occurs when someone acts in a manner that causes another individual to get harmed or suffer loss. The person who commits any civil wrong or perpetrates the harmful action is commonly known as the tortfeasor. Even though crime may qualify as a tort, the grounds of legal action are not essentially a crime as a damage may result from neglect, which is not regarded the same as criminal neglect. The victim of the harm caused by the action resulting from the civil wrong can be compensated for their loss through a lawsuit.

In a bid to prevail a tort case, the plaintiff is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the actions or lack of action directly causes the harm in question. Tort laws are applicable in different parts of the world and have been noted to profoundly influence other different types of laws, including business law, civil law, and criminal law. Since they have been identified to be very influential in the law and legal fraternity of many different countries, tort laws have been the subject of many reviews and this paper will examine the causes of tort law reforms by highlighting a number of tort cases.

Causes of Tort Law Reforms

In the United States, the tort reforms have been as a result of the fact that many lawsuits that are filed in the country qualify to be termed frivolous lawsuits because they do not have merit. A particularly good example of a frivolous lawsuit was that made by the infamous serial killer, Randy Kraft, who sued a publishing house on the grounds that it published a book which portrayed him as an evil monster and subsequently ruined his chances of ever accessing meaningful employment in the future. The court ruled against Kraft on the grounds that his case was frivolous. Among the key factors that have caused this reform is based on the millions of dollars that they cost the country.

Tort reforms have also been as a result of the quest of certain corporations to minimize the type of tort laws that are applicable in a country. This has caused some bitter exchanges in terms of arguments between attorneys who are bent on indemnifying the citizens and those attorneys representing the corporations. Tort laws have for a long time been viewed as a means of protecting the common people from unscrupulous corporations that can even deliberately endanger in the pursuit of making profit. For example, pharmaceutical companies as well as tobacco, and oil corporations have been deliberately putting people at stake in their quest for profit making activities. However, these companies have influenced laws that have tended to reduce their accountability with regard to the harm that they cause to society. For example, a Koch Industries pipeline has been reported to have exploded and killed some people, yet the company failed to acknowledge their responsibility for the deaths of these people.

A similar case has also been witnessed in pharmaceutical companies and tobacco companies that have continued to sell dangerous products to the people and at the same time influencing policymakers to make laws that tend to rid the companies of the accountability of selling harmful products. With the tutelage of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), there have been many laws that have left Americans susceptible to the dangers of purchasing risky goods from corporations due to many reforms in the tort laws (Brody 807).

Another major cause of the tort reforms has been the fact that corporations have been said to be paying off hefty sums of money that the plaintiffs are not entitled to thus leading to the introduction of bills that limit the amount of money that these firms are liable to pay for cases in which they have been proved to have caused harm or injury. In the United States, five states have adopted a new law that is called the Noneconomic Damage Awards Act, which restricts the jury on the amount of money that can be awarded as compensation for injury or harm caused.

This Act has elicited many arguments against it on the grounds that the jury is not given the legal right to compensate somebody a higher amount of money regardless of the fact that his or her life may have been subjected to diminishing as a direct result of injury. In addition, there has been the introduction of Full and Fair Noneconomic Damages Act, which also places limitations on the amount of money that a corporation is liable to pay an injured person based on the amount and extent of suffering and pain that the person is subjected to. Some states have also introduced the Phantom Damages Elimination Act, which also reflects on the effort of the law to protect the corporations instead of the society.

This indicates that some of the major tort law reforms have been affected by the influence of financially endowed corporations that will to go to great extents just to indemnify their profit margins without even caring about the damage that they subject society to because of their operations and products (Carrier1587).

Nevertheless, it is highly critical to note that tort laws also tend to be fair towards corporations for certain reasons. For example, some people will still continue using products even after being warned by the company in question on the possible side effects of using the products.

This instance can be verified by the fact that tobacco companies have complied with different regulations that require them to inform the public of the health consequences of engaging in the harmful behavior that is cigarette smoking. This is in direct opposition of the marketing strategies that these companies desire. Despite these information, people still engage in the harmful behavior of smoking. When smokers get different health conditions that are related to smoking, they are quick to seek legal action and want to be compensated by the companies in spite of the fact that the companies had forewarned them and the general public of the dangers of using their various products.

By all respect, these corporations needed protection from the increased tort lawsuits or risk going bankrupt due to this. As a result, tort laws reforms were established to protect the companies because the failure of such companies in the market may lead to an economic catastrophe with many people losing employment and governments losing revenue.

It is also of high importance to note that reforms have been established to protect the companies from people who would intentionally use certain products for illegal purposes and subsequently sue the companies for the damages that they accrued from or suffer for illegally using these products. For example, people will use prescription drugs for recreational purposes, and this illegal use or abuse of these products tends to negatively affect the health of such users. Once these people have developed life-threatening conditions like damaged livers, they move to court seeking compensation from the companies that manufacture such products. The pharmaceutical industry has been the victim of this form of fraud leading the government to try and protect these industries from people who are out to exploit or make money out of them.

Of essence is the fact that reforms have been introduced in order to discourage unscrupulous lawyers from promoting frivolous tort lawsuits and litigation. Lawyers have been known to encourage citizens to sue corporations for legal damages that cannot be directly linked to the organizations. For example, lawyers have been encouraging people to sue the employing organizations after they have been fired due to their own inefficiency in the workplace. Even though this may seem justifiable in the context of reducing employment, it has a negative impact on the management of corporations it can be attested by the fact that paying these people may cause a negative effect on the revenues and margins of the involved organizations and also set a wrong precedent to other employees (Grace 37).

Conclusion

Tort laws reforms have been implemented in order to benefit the society. However, it is important to note that most of the reforms are geared towards ensuring that the corporations are indemnified from facing harsh tort lawsuits. It is also necessary for the concerned authorities to make sure that the society is also safeguarded from organizations that tend to spend a lot of effort in improving their profit margins especially by engaging in unhealthy and risky business activities, and the production of unhealthy products. This implies that even though the government is responsible of protecting the society from the corporations that will sell risky product, it also has to offer protection to the corporations that need to be protected from people who are out to make a quick buck out of them through tort laws. If the organization has informed the public that a product is not safe for a particular demographics, it should not be legally bound to be responsible for the injury that is caused as a result of the misuse of such a product.

 Works Cited

Brody, Howard, and Laura D. Hermer. “Professionally responsible malpractice reform.” Journal of general internal medicine 26, 2011.

Carrier, Emily R., et al. “Physicians’ fears of malpractice lawsuits are not assuaged by tort reforms.” Health Affairs 29.9, 2010.

Grace, Martin F., and J. Tyler Leverty. “How Tort Reform Affects Insurance Markets.” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 2012.

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