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Tort Reform is Putting the Seventh Amendment Under Siege

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    The radical right wants us all to believe that the reason our medical bills are so high is because doctors are just being sued too much. In their eyes, the only logical way to fix this is to limit citizens ability to collect damages when doctors do something that causes them harm. What is at issue here is not whether or not these doctors are innocent or guilty. They have already been found liable by a jury of their peers. What is at issue is that states have been enacting tort reform that disenfranchises citizens from collecting fair compensation for the harm that was bestowed upon them.

    All of this is being done in the name of preventing doctors from having to constantly defend themselves when a surgery or procedure doesn't go exactly as planned. That is an issue that should be addressed appropriately, but that is not what tort reform has morphed into. What tort reform has morphed into is a tool that is preventing citizens from their constitutional right to a fair trial by a jury of their peers which is guaranteed in the Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

    Juries are becoming less relevant in medical malpractice cases because of these tort reform laws. Most of the time the maximum payment is just a fraction of the overall medical costs this person will accrue due to the doctors malpractice. Add the emotional toll that this malpractice caused to the patient and one has to wonder where these states are coming up with these woefully inadequate compensation numbers. Thankfully the Supreme Courts in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, Oregon, Texas and Washington have ruled that their states laws capping limits on malpractice suits as unconstitutional. My only hope is that more states step up and guarantee the same thing.

    Thoughts on the adverse impacts of tort reform and the number of courts that are finally guaranteeing that the Seventh Amendment isn't just words on a piece of paper?