In certain business circles, when discussing our civil justice system, there have been cries of “lawsuit abuse” and the need for “tort reform”. The problem is that those who utilize these terms, when talking about the justice system, are lying to the public about the issue. If these business types (led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and local chambers) really wanted to tackle the problem of “lawsuit abuse”, they would not continue to argue that there should be artificial ‘caps’ on damage awards. They would argue, instead, that there should be penalties for bringing cases that get dismissed or no-caused by a jury. Oh, it is true that they argue that ‘this case’ or ‘that one’ is ‘ridiculous’ and should never have been filed. But the solutions that they lobby for are not sensible solutions for these types of filings; these pro-business groups lobby for restrictions on court access and for significant limitations on damage awards. If pro-business groups want to be taken seriously, they should lobby for penalties against those who bring worthless cases. They should cease doing what they have always done: I invite them to stop their attacks on justifiably large verdicts in serious personal injury cases. These verdicts, almost always, are awarded for serious negligence causing very serious injuries. Here is one such example:
In 2005, a woman was hit by a city bus, as she was crossing the street in New York. Because of the serious nature of her injuries, her left leg was amputated; she has been unable to work since this horrendous accident. She retained an experienced personal injury attorney and pursued a lawsuit. In most cases, jury trials result from the fact that defendants and insurance companies do not recognize the seriousness of an injured person’s circumstances and the ability of a jury to properly recognize and award damages for those circumstances. In this case, the jury awarded $27.5 million; Metro Transit Authority felt the award was too high and announced its intention to appeal the verdict. However, very shortly after this accident, there were three more similar personal injury lawsuits brought against the same Transit Authority. The awards in those cases were all over a million: one for $1.8 million, one for $2.3 million and one for $7 million.
Obviously, 2005 was not a good year for the Transit Authority; driver/operators under its supervision were negligent in four separate accidents that resulted in catastrophic injuries. Hopefully, its complaints of unfairness in verdict size will fall on deaf ears in appellate court. The Authority has work to do with regard to driver training and public safety. These verdicts send a clear message to the Authority and to the public that those responsible must clean up their act. Awards such as this almost always result in public safety improvements. Any continuation of this pattern of negligence should result in punitive awards.
Pedestrian accidents like the ones involved with Metro Transit Authority are also good candidates for responsible lawsuit funding. In the case of our unfortunate amputee victim, litigation funding may be used to pay important bills and expenses as well as medical and hospital expenses that are not covered by insurance. Serious injuries result in serious disability and income loss; it is fairly certain that this unfortunate woman will be unable to return to work. The same might be true for many of the other plaintiffs injured by Authority drivers, as well.
Legal finance services are designed to assist victims to immediately pay important bills and expenses while awaiting settlement or case resolution. If justice is slow in coming, the plaintiffs’ desperation to settle too early, for too little, is removed because the important bills and expenses have been paid by virtue of the lawsuit cash advance. Plaintiff now has the luxury of waiting out the litigation process without giving in to the financial pressure to take early, inadequate, offers from the stingy insurance company. If the plaintiff loses his/her case, the “lawsuit loan” is excused and the money does not have to be repaid. If financial pressure to settle too early for too little is removed, the result in the case should be considerably higher as the insurance company loses the financial leverage it needs to coerce a low settlement. This is, truly, no risk pre-settlement funding.
Applying for lawsuit financing is easy. It only takes a quick phone call to the legal funding company or going online and filling out an application there. Once the case has been reviewed and approved, the money arrives very quickly; usually within 24-48 hours of approval.