This is a first for me. I am going to highlight a major topic at Wikipedia. Actually, I will let excerpts from the Wikipedia article highlight itself.
The term tort reform is used by its advocates to describe a change in the United States civil justice system that they believe will improve its efficiency or reduce litigation’s adverse effects on the economy.
While the phrase “tort reform” might imply any change in tort law or procedure, the commonly understood use in political and academic arenas describes a movement to curb tort litigation and damages. It does not include reforms that would expand liability, such as laws that create new causes of action or that increase damage awards. The term is also commonly applied to a political movement that advocates several such changes.
Tort reform is a controversial subject, and has been one of the most debated policy issues in recent times.
Critics of tort reform contend that the real purpose of the proposed changes is to shield businesses, especially large corporations, from having to pay just compensation to consumers, patients and clients for the harm incurred from fraud, negligence, medical malpractice, product liability or other legitimate tort claims.
Some of the arguments of critics include:
– Limitations on punitive damages and other restrictions on plaintiff’s traditional rights will reduce corporate accountability.
– The playing field is rarely even, in terms of financial resources. A ‘loser pays’ system would discourage all lawsuits – even those that are meritorious. Few individuals could risk the costs of defendant’s fees if they lost. That is the whole purpose of contingency fees – to allow access to the courts for individuals who otherwise would not have the funds to pursue a case.
If you visit this topic at Wikipedia be sure to also visit Talk: Tort Reform which is basically a huge blog discussion of the merits of the main article.