A bill that caps tort recoveries in Oklahoma is on its way to Democratic Governor Brad Henry’s desk. He is expected to sign the bill. This issue has been fought over in Oklahoma for several years. My understanding is that the bill will cap tort recovery at $400,000, but will leave discretion for lifting the cap in catastrophic injury situations. There is also, apparently, going to be a taxpayer funded "fund" for those cases that exceed the cap (can anyone spell ‘insurance company bailout?’). Most of the press I have seen indicates that this bill is a compromise between several groups, including the trial lawyers. I’d like to know if that is true. Any Oklahoma InjuryBoard members wish to comment?
Here are two comments from Oklahoma citizens in a NewsOK article I read about this bill. The first comment came from a citizen named "Bill" and the second, from "James" was a response to Bill’s comment:
Looks like incompetent doctors won the day. God help you if you get hurt by a quack. Not only is it virtually impossible to win that kind of case, but then they cap your damages. And, the next positive thing the State Chamber does for this state will be the first. What a bunch of useless buffoons.
Bill- That’s funny… I read this and was thinking that it looks like sleazy trial lawyers and free-loading, sue-happy citizens lost today. I guess it’s all in how you choose to look at it. With your way of thinking, it would seem that there are more "quack" Dr.’s out there than ambulance chasing lawyers. Really???
These two comments are very good examples of opposite end of the spectrum opinions. Trial lawyers and InjuryBoard Members, in particular, need to work to change the public’s perception of their vocation and their support of pro-justice issues. It amazes me how someone like ‘James’ (unless he is an insurance industry representative or a someone who has been negligent so often he is tired of being sued) was created. Why would an ordinary citizen buy into the garbage being peddled by the tort deformers? Someday, maybe someone can explain to me how and why we are losing this public relations war. Someone will have to explain to me why the public believes that you can stop "frivolous lawsuits" by capping recoveries for serious ones. Would they trade their health for a sizeable financial recovery?
Lawsuit Financial opposes any and all restrictions on a client’s access to justice. Trial lawyers and trial lawyer associations (associations for justice) must continue to reach out to the public, in all forums possible, and speak out against any effort to restrict, by law, a person’s right to tort recovery.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.