A few weeks ago, the Center for Justice & Democracy posted this photo on its Facebook page (credit: Daniel Albanese), noting the irony as organized medicine continues to lobby for laws (like caps on damages) that take needed funds out of the hands of catastrophically-injured children and into the pockets of insurance companies. Not exactly helpful to the 99 percent. And let’s be honest. Doctors are the highest paid professionals in the world. Doesn’t it seem that the people who really need to be part of this movement are the victims of negligence, at least in addition to the people who cause it?
Check out how some politicians have been treating these victims lately.
Remember the Indiana State Fair state collapse, which killed seven and injured more than 40 injured – some severely? As we told you last month, state law caps damages for this entire incident as $5 million. There seemed to be a humanitarian effort underway to up the cap. Well that's not happening, at least for another year. Meanwhile, these victims languish. The Associated Press writes:
Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, has floated the only legislative proposal stemming from the collapse thus far, saying he would like to raise the state’s liability cap from $5 million to something closer to $15 million. But Republican leaders have said that would amount to a handout to trial lawyers, not victims.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, says it’s too early to make any changes without knowing who’s to blame for the fatal collapse.
“I think we’re going to have a pretty healthy debate about whether the legislature should take a ‘ready-aim-fire’ approach or a ‘fire-ready-aim’ approach,” Bosma said.
How comforting. Over in Wisconsin, the newest attack on victims would,
[G]ut consumer protection laws and effectively stop the filing of lawsuits against companies that break the law.
One measure ... would limit the amount a plaintiff's attorneys can charge in some cases to three times the amount of any monetary award. Another would lower the amount of interest people who successfully sue for injuries can collect on their judgments, while the higher interest rate would remain for judgments awarded to banks and credit card companies that take their customers to court.…
Rep. Tony Staskunas, D-West Allis, said the changes would "tear the guts" out of the state's consumer protection law because no attorney will take small cases for "the little guy."
Another bill would gut the state’s ability to penalize nursing homes that abuse and neglect their patients. Says Mike Bachhuber, executive director of the Independent Living Council of Wisconsin, this is bad because “the state needs to be able to impose stiff penalties on violators. The vast majority of violations fall on a small number of nursing homes ... The state really needs to have the tools to really hit those facilitates that are not maintaining the standards."
Note that this comes after a law enacted earlier this year to make it more difficult for abused and neglected patients - or their families - to hold nursing homes accountable for the harm they cause patients.
Now obviously, severely injured people or nursing home patients are not the kinds of folks who can camp out in sleeping bags, march down city streets or even hold signs at a public demonstration. But the rest of us can.