In 2005, President George W. Bush signed a bill that would limit the amount of money that could be awarded in malpractice suits. It seems that medical malpractice has become a real money maker in the U.S., especially for legal professionals.
It has been debated for years now as to whether personal injury law in the United States should have limits placed on it. The United States has become a nation hungry for compensation through law suits no matter how large or small an issue may be. We have developed into a society that seems to have lost any other way to settle our problems and arguments or even our “accidents”.
Proponents of limiting the settlements allowed on personal injury law suits often explain that ceilings on settlements will have a very positive effect on the legal landscape in America. One of the most often cited example is that of health care costs. In a country where a huge number of people have little or no health insurance to pay for such necessary expenses, the cost of medical attention is rising higher and higher. Many feel this is due to the exorbitant cost to medical practitioners for their liability insurance, including their malpractice insurance. This is insurance these professionals are forced to carry in order to protect themselves against large lawsuits. It may very well be that if the Doctor’s expenses go down, he or she may be able to provide services for less.
Another reason many (including President Bush) feel that settlements should have limits is to reduce the strain on the American justice system. Many personal injury suits are filed by people who have been in an accident and are lead to believe by the ever present television commercials that the first person they should be talking to is a personal injury lawyer. These people seem to live in a black and white world where the word “accident” no longer has a meaning. Such law suits are considered frivolous by many in the legal field. They do, however still exist and put a huge strain on the whole system. Because everyone has the right to legal recourse in such matters, many simply file in hopes that they win big (as though it were a lottery rather than a legal proceeding based on facts).
President Bush and others who support limiting legal awards in many cases have also listed limits on punitive damages awarded and limits on non financial damages awarded as a further measure to be taken. “Pain and suffering” has practically been stretched beyond any plausible reality in many lawsuits now and this would reduce the elasticity of such claims into the future.
While it remains every person’s right to pursue justice in the United States through the legal system, President Bush and other proponents of limited awards are making an effort to bring some reasonable limits back into play now that personal injury law suits have become so abundant now.