Caps on Damages Hurt the People That the System Is Supposed To Help

In addition to homeowners needing foreclosure help, my firm sees too many people forced to enter a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy process because they are unable to deal with a mountain of medical bills. There are especially heartbreaking cases in which people have become unemployed because of catastrophic injuries they suffered that have left them unable to work again. Sadly, caps on damages for victims of corporate negligence leaves many families with no economic recourse.

While DC does not have any such damage caps (yet), the American Medical Association (AMA) says the limit on non-economic damages in Maryland was frozen at $650,000 until 2009 after which the cap will increase by $15,000 per year. In wrongful death actions involving two or more claimants or beneficiaries, the AMA reported the total cap on non-economic damages is 125 percent of the cap.

We have all been told that the caps on damages involved in tort reform efforts are needed because “frivolous lawsuits” are “clogging the courts,” but the consequences only add to the suffering of real victims. Furthermore, my colleagues at the Indiana personal injury firm Doehrman Buba noted in a blog post about tort reform last month, “By taking damage awards out of the capable hands of the justice system and jury, everyone’s constitutional rights are at risk.”

Their post was in reference to this interview that political satirist Stephen Colbert did with filmmaker Susan Saladoff regarding her documentary, “Hot Coffee”:

The movie was released on DVD in November, and this week I will address more of the ways in which tort reform and bankruptcy intersect.

Law Firm of Kevin D. Judd – Maryland bankruptcy attorney

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