Since the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 2010, there has been a lot of discussion about enacting tort reform at a federal level. There is a lot of heated rhetoric on both sides of the issue, but heated rhetoric doesn't help regular citizens understand just what exactly tort reform is and what it will do.
Tort reform isn't one single idea or law. Instead, it's a group of ideas and laws designed to change the way our civil justice system works. This blog aims to provide neutral explanations of what individual tort reform measures are and what effect they will have on the court system and on citizens.
While each tort reform law is different, they all share one or more of the following goals:
- To make it more difficult for injured people to file a lawsuit.
- To make it more difficult for injured people to obtain a jury trial.
- To place limits on the amount of money injured people receive in a lawsuit.
Many people refer to it as tort "reform" because they don't believe that the proposed laws will actually reform the system, but will instead shift the balance of the scales of justice. Others call it tort deform for the same reason. For example, the web site Tortdeform.com is very critical of tort reform measures.
Any discussion of tort reform is likely to contain lots of jargon and legalese. Before one can take a side in the debate over tort reform, one needs to understand the terms and concepts in the debate. My name is Justinian Lane, and I put this blog together while I was still a law student. I have since graduated from Michigan State University College of Law and am now licensed to practice law in Washington state. While I'm confident that everything here is accurate, please don't consider this blog to be legal advice. If you have a legal question, find a lawyer. If you'd like help finding a lawyer you can either (a) contact your state bar association for a free referral, or (b) email justinian at justinian dot us.
This site links to various web sites, some of which may belong to lawyers. Don't take these links as a personal recommendation for those lawyers.
For a broad look at tort reform, check out my article, "What Is Tort Reform?"