There is a battle being waged in Georgia’s legislative chambers. The governor and some lawmakers want to change laws that would make it more difficult for Georgia’s citizens to file lawsuits and win legal judgments for injuries.
What does this mean for Georgia’s citizens?
Understanding tort law
Tort law is the concept that someone injured by another’s negligence or reckless behavior can seek compensation in civil court. Tort reform seeks to limit the rights of the victim to sue and the amount of money they can receive. Typically, the driving force behind tort reform are businesses, medical professionals, property developers, commercial property owners and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. They claim excessive lawsuits lead to higher insurance premiums and increase the cost of doing business in Georgia.
However, tort reform is detrimental to victims of personal injury as it limits their ability to seek justice and receive adequate compensation. A law passed in 2005 put a cap of $350,000 on non-economic damages such as pain, suffering and emotional distress. It doesn’t consider how the victim’s injuries can impact their quality of life. Fortunately, the state’s Supreme Court overturned the law in 2010.
The governor’s new push for tort reform, backed by Hardworking Georgians, Inc. and Competitive Georgia, is at the top of 2024’s legislative session agenda. He hasn’t given the public an outline of his plan. Still, in the past, several groups have pushed plans that place caps on injuries caused by defective products, limiting the ability to sue property owners for injuries occurring on their land caused by someone else and banning lawyers from asking for specific amounts. As the law currently stands, all twelve jury members must agree unanimously for a judge to sign off on a verdict.
While proponents of tort reform state that it balances the interests of everyone working, living and doing business in George, its implementation often hurts the victims in their quest for justice.