States around the country have passed, or are considering passing, tort reform legislation that restricts the ability of plaintiffs to bring personal injury lawsuits or limits the amount of financial recovery that can be sought in such lawsuits. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner recently jumped on the tort reform bandwagon, seeking to set geographic limits on lawsuits to prevent forum shopping, restrict medical expense to amounts paid rather than billed, and allow defendants to pass on their liability to other parties. In response to Rauner’s push for tort reform, in May, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan called a hearing of the entire Illinois House, during which Madigan “put a human face on what those changes would mean, with lawmakers hearing testimony from nearly a dozen victims of medical malpractice and corporate negligence who told stories of botched diagnoses, mishandled pregnancies and a deadly road collision.” One of the victims to testify at the hearing was Molly Akers, a patient who was incorrectly diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent an unnecessary mastectomy, and Linda Reynolds, a Missouri resident whose cancer spread throughout her body as a result of a delayed diagnosis. Reynolds won a $4.5 million judgment, but was not able to collect the full amount because of caps on damages in her state. In 2005, legislation that set limits on pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases against doctors and hospitals was passed, but that law was struck down in 2010 by the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled that limits on damages awarded to victims of medical negligence are unconstitutional. Not only have some courts held that tort reform laws are unconstitutional, but they could potentially violate state law. For instance, some tort reform measures seek to eliminate the plaintiff’s right to a jury trial – a right that is guaranteed under most state constitutions. Additionally, tort reform laws undoubtedly hurt patients and the public by failing to hold doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals financially responsible for their injuries or deaths that they have caused. As we have reported, the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are not frivolous. In fact, a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health analyzing more than 1,400 medical malpractice claims concluded that the majority of medical malpractice claims were meritorious and involved “injuries due to error,” with 80% involving death or serious injury. The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish are dedicated to seeking maximum financial recovery for the victims of medical error and personal injury accidents. We will continue to monitor the issue of tort reform legislation and provide updates accordingly. If you or a loved one was the victim of medical error, contact the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible legal claim. Source: Madigan sends Rauner message on tort reform Steinberg Goodman & Kalish (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families. We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (888) 325-7299 or (312) 445-9084.