Recently, Ralph Nader penned an insightful article for Harper’s Magazine regarding the idea of tort reform and how it relates to the justice system as a whole.
We have tremendous respect for Nader, and, like him, feel strongly that “tort reform,” as it is commonly discussed, is a danger to justice in America. We don’t see enough people speaking out loudly against tort reform, so we were pleased to see what he had to say on the topic. Too often we hear people siding with tort reform, spreading the myth that “frivolous lawsuits clog our legal system.”
One thing in particular that Nader said, resonated with us, and we felt it was an important point to repeat:
“At stake are the shrinking rights and remedies that are available to the millions of people each year who are victims of defective products, medical malpractice, toxic chemicals, workplace dangers, police violence, and a host of other torts in our complex industrial society. With only a few of these victims able to achieve redress and hold perpetrators accountable, justice becomes severely rationed, and the inflicted costs, instead of being absorbed by the wrongdoers in order to encourage subsequent deterrence, are foisted on victims, their families, and taxpayer-funded social-welfare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (via disability payments).”
-Ralph Nader, Harper’s Magazine April 2016, p 59
Halting the progress of tort reform is not a matter of greedy parties wanting to make cash-grab lawsuits for easy paydays. The right to sue for justice is what allows us, the people, to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions — or inaction. When tort reform measures place caps on judgments and awards, it allows massive corporations to commit injustice with impunity, while the taxpayers pay the bill.
Nader’s point goes beyond the stereotype of the “greedy trial lawyer” you’ve been sold. He’s telling an important truth: that civil lawsuits keep the wheels of justice turning, and are often people’s only protection from one awful moment ruining the rest of their lives.
We are thankful that Nader said it publicly. We just hope enough people read it.
Tort reform is discussed in our book ‘Accidents Happen: But Who’s Going To Pay The Bills?’ which is available here.