The overriding principle of the American civil justice system is that it gives David an equal chance against Goliath. In the land where our founders had the revolutionary vision to declare that “All men are created equal”, our justice system assures every one of us that if one person causes personal injury or wrongful death to another, the guilty person will face responsibility for the damage done.
Holding each individual responsible is a simple concept that seems self-evident, and it’s hardly new. In fact, it was a basic part of the Code of Hammurabi, which dates back to 1790 B.C. and states that “If a Builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.”
Our system of justice incorporates that basic principle of self-responsibility, and the principle applies equally whether the person who harms another is an individual, a business, or a huge corporation. Regardless of wealth, power, or fame, no individual is above the law, and no corporation can harm consumers without facing responsibility for its actions. In some countries, Ford Motor Company might not have had to pay for the death and destruction that it knowingly caused with its Pinto and Explorer, but the American justice system held Ford responsible for its crimes.
To most people, the American civil justice system is invisible. People become aware of it only when they suffer an injury or an injustice, but in many ways the civil justice system has made life better and safer for everyone. Businesses didn’t stop using asbestos for insulation because they suddenly developed a concern for their employees’ health. They stopped because trial lawyers, representing injured individuals, brought pressure on the companies that knowingly used a dangerous product.
And asbestos is just one example of the benefits brought to everyone by trial lawyers. Without the line of defense that they provide, businesses could sell any dangerous products that they choose, and government would have to answer to no one. Without the protections of our civil justice system and the efforts of trial lawyers, the corporations and the government would have total control of everyone’s life.
Now, however, precisely because of the protections that our civil justice system provides for every citizen, Goliath wants to deprive David of his right for “Equal Justice Under The Law”. Goliath calls his devious plan Tort Reform, and he claims that our legal system is destroying the country, driving corporations out of business, and rewarding individuals who file frivolous lawsuits. Goliath makes those claims, but the truth is that he simply wants to change the law so that he can avoid responsibility for his harmful actions and thereby keep more money in his pocket.
This modern Goliath is actually a collection of corporations, right-wing think tanks, and foundations funded by wealthy families, and he’s spending big bucks and spreading all sorts of lies and misinformation in his attempts to squash his little opponents.
By screaming loudly for tort reform, these special interest groups are trying to rig the rulebook to deny or reduce American citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed access to the courts, and the driving motivation of these groups is nothing more noble than to improve their profits by shirking responsibility for their harmful actions.
One of the many hypocrisies of those who are campaigning for tort reform is that they call themselves political conservatives when one of the basic beliefs of conservatives is that each individual is responsible for his or her own life. A conservative parent will tell a boy who breaks a window that it’s his responsibility to earn the money to replace it, but when a corporation such as Ford deliberately puts people at risk, these groups want to absolve the corporation of its liability.
Tort reform advocates like to claim that by allowing injured people to seek just compensation for their injuries, our legal system is destroying our economy, but the facts simply don’t back that frivolous claim. An insightful look at that claim shows that it has absolutely no merit.
Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits occur only when someone or some business causes harm. So, instead of crying for tort reform, our corporate Goliaths would make better use of their money and efforts if they would encourage businesses to act responsibly by selling safe products and providing safe services.
Tort reform is a movement whose only goal is to increase the profits of a few by stripping away the constitutionally guaranteed access of the American citizen to our civil justice system. Despite the efforts of Goliath, our system still works, so if you have suffered a personal injury, contact me at 888.777.1776, to learn more and check the videos, track record and testimonials of the Davids that I am proud to have helped.