We all know the story of David and Goliath. The Israelites were in a war with the Philistines who had a great Giant fighting for them who was undefeated. David, a young man, tells the King that he will go and fight for the Israelites. He only takes a sling and some stones, and because of his courage and strength of character, he knocks Goliath down with his sling and defeats the Philistines.
If you have been injured, had your civil rights violated, been the victim of a medical mistake, or have been wronged civilly in any other way, you might feel like you are going up against Goliath. You will have to sue the corporation or insurance company representing the other party for the damages you suffered. The civil justice system is a way for the common man to be equal to the large corporations they are suing, regardless of their wealth or social status.
Because of the civil justice system products are safer, the environment is cleaner, and medical care is safer. Because of our 7th Amendment rights to have a fair trial by jury when we are civilly wronged, we live much better lives.
In this day in age, we hear a lot of buzz words like tort reform, frivolous lawsuits, and jackpot justice. These terms were created by political action committees intent on limiting your access to the courts for the benefit of the large businesses. These businesses, so-called “concerned citizens” groups, and lawmakers who insist on reforming the civil justice system go to great lengths to deceive you into believing that the courts are overrun with absurd lawsuits, when in reality, they are not.
Many of us have heard of these so-called “frivolous lawsuits". They are lawsuits that appear to have a ridiculous premise, and somehow, the plaintiff gets an even more ridiculous multi-million dollar settlement. Most of the time, you only hear the information that makes the plaintiff look silly. You won’t hear, however, the facts that show there is a legitimate claim, and that the damage that the claimant suffered was very real.
The corporation or the insurance company that insures the defendant who is being sued must pay for the damages they are responsible for. To minimize such payments, the corporations have spent bundles on marketing schemes to make the general public – and juries- believe most lawsuits are brought in bad faith. Because of this, tort reform laws are passed that limit your access to the courts and limit the amount that a settlement or jury award can be.
Because of tort reform, corporations, or rather Goliath wins. The civil justice system needs to remain in place so that injured people have a chance to bring their case on a level playing field.
“Now, gentlemen, in this country, our courts are the great levelers. In our courts, all men are created equal. I'm no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and of our jury system - that's no ideal to me. That is a working, living reality.” -Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee