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Illinois Plaintiffs Weigh in on Tort Reform

Recently, tort reform became a topic of discussion in Springfield. Our attorneys believe this is an especially important topic because these lawsuits give injured victims of negligence access to the courts and allow plaintiffs to recover compensation and obtain justice for wrongdoing committed against them. When we bring lawsuits against negligent parties, we use the legal system as a vehicle of change to make our communities a safer place. When verdicts are granted in favor of the plaintiffs, not only are negligent parties held accountable, but the legal examples set by medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits deter other potential negligent parties from committing wrongs and placing innocent parties in harm’s way in the future.

Some look to deny victims access to the courts by calling for tort reform. If we reform the tort system by placing a limit on jury awards, the legal system is thereby weakened and can no longer strongly deter tortfeasors as it has in the past. When there are caps, negligent parties are aware of the maximum they can be punished, regardless of how horrendous the act. The legal system we have in place currently operates successfully in a way to not only provide retribution for victims and their families but to punish negligent parties and prevent future negligence. The Illinois legislature is once again revisiting the issue of tort reform after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that limits on damages awarded to victims of medical negligence are unconstitutional.

A recent article by The Herald-News discusses how Illinois lawmakers recently debated whether to make changes to the state’s tort laws. Plaintiffs in medical malpractice and wrongful death cases have spoken out saying that limits should not be placed on jury awards after Illinois’s new governor, Bruce Rauner, announced tort reform was a priority, claiming that it is pro-business and a way to save employers money. What supporters of tort reform fail to consider is the well-being of those who suffer at the hands of negligent parties. According to this article, over 4,000 deaths in Illinois have been linked to preventable medical errors.

In another article by the Chicago Tribune, Speaker of the House Madigan sent a message to our governor in support of victims of negligence. In a hearing, lawmakers heard from a dozen victims of incorrect or missed diagnoses, road collisions, and mishandled pregnancies. One victim testified about an incorrect diagnosis of breast cancer and having to undergo an unnecessary mastectomy. Then, our lawmakers got to hear from a victim in a neighboring state who has had to deal with the negative consequences of tort reform; due to the caps on damages in her Midwest state, she could not collect the full amount of the judgment in her favor, even though she suffered breast cancer that wasn’t taken seriously by her doctor.

Our lawyers stand behind the victims of irresponsibility and negligence and support that they should not have to suffer any more by not being awarded the justice they deserve. Human lives should never come second after profit, which is why we do not support the pro-business agenda of tort reform. We stand by the people of our state and their right to a lawsuit and access to justice.