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Why not personal injury law?

November 30, 2010

Personal injury law is civil law that offers the hope of justice  to any American injured by another’s negligent or reckless actions.  One would think that the great libertarians would be forceful advocates for a system that allows any man or women, regardless of wealth or status, to seek justice, however powerful the tortfeasor.  The Libertarians and the Tea Party should be among the great advocates of unshackled constraints of  a system that allows every day for men and women on a jury to mete out justice.  The Conservatives should applaud a system that leaves the legal powers with the states, not the federal government, the decisions in the hands of the people, not the powerful.

However, this is not the case:  although in personal injury cases,  a beggar can still  challenge a King, and win, conservative legislatures have moved in state after state to limit the awards that a jury can find, effectively nullifying the ability of  a jury of peers to mete full justice as they see fit. There are now  powerful constraints that shackle juries seeking to find a just amount for injuries, so-called “caps” on pain and suffering  that replace thoughtful jury decisions with legislative fiats.  

Why? 

 Our tort law system in our nation was carried for generations from England to here by settler, by pioneers, and by fighters for better working conditions, safer products, and justice for all.  This justice system that sets us apart from other nations where justice is denied to all but those who can afford it,  is a reason our nation is great, a legal  recognition of the power of each and everyone of us to be the difference, to be the one, and to be able to insist upon his or her right to be made whole against even the most powerful.  So why diminish this power that Americans have held as sacred from generation to generation?  Could it be that the siren cry of conservatives that limits are in the interest of business forgets the greater public interest of a system of civil justice for all? 

Any thoughts on why conservatives would not applaud a system that does not require governmental intervention, but a jury of peers to determine the price of justice?  Is it the cost or should any cost be borne in the name of justice?  Is it that justice is expensive?  Has anyone considered the alternative in countries where there are limits on the compensation for injuries or where the loser pays court costs, how few dare stand up against the mighty and powerful and injustice? Why shackle a justice system that has served us so well for over two hundred years  and limit what juries can do and what lawyers can fight for on behalf of victims?

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