Large corporations want to shrink the jury awards to injured customers by revising how judges decide the amount of victims’ medical damages. The lobbying initiative brought by Disney, an amusement park operator in Florida, and Publix, a grocery store chain, creates new legislation to limit the high awards juries give victims of amusement park ride accidents and slips and falls in grocery stores. Proponents of tort reform hope to see legislative change.
Negligent Corporations Leave Victims with Bills to Pay
Opponents believe the move to reduce lawsuit awards leaves victims with legitimate complaints about medical bills and no recourse. The lobbyists charge that medical providers are milking corporations when they believe a victim will ultimately win a large award. Opponents wonder whether a victim has been over-treated, as corporations assert, or if corporations are just prejudging the level of care.
Florida’s Governor and Tort Reform
Florida’s governor has vowed tort reform, but it’s an election year and the governor’s opponent is perceived to be an advocate for victims’ rights. That could make it a campaign issue. With an election year coming, it may not serve the governor to side with Disney and Publix.
The High Cost of Medical Care
The issue revolves around the high awards juries give to injured victims to cover high medical costs. Disney and Publix contend that juries are told the high cost of medical care for the patient and not the discounted price that government programs like Medicare or health insurance companies pay in the end. The current system already allows judges to review final expenses and subtract potential windfalls from victims’ awards.
When Care Providers Defer Billing
Unfortunately, tort reformers want more. They want Florida’s legislature to reduce the amount of money a plaintiff can receive in such lawsuits. To tort reformers, it’s a matter of the perception in jurors’ minds when they hear about the high medical bills the victim is facing. This is complicated by the fact that health care providers defer billing until after the case is settled, exacerbating the situation. The final bill arrives after the trial is over, leaving the judge little to change because the initial cost is not put before him.
Advocates for victims’ rights strongly oppose the move because corporations’ negligence has caused an unfortunate accident and the victims deserve the awards they win. The victims’ awards are not the things to address with new legislation, advocates for victims’ rights say.
It’s important to consider how such laws will affect jury awards in the future and the level of medical care victims will receive if a new law limits jury awards. If you live in New Port Richey, FL and you, or someone you know, has been injured, you may be interested in contacting a personal injury lawyer. Contact LMW Attorneys with any questions you may have and we will be happy to advise you or even take your case.