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Without a doubt, the civil litigation process is a valid approach to finding truth. This notwithstanding, legislation has greatly been influenced by big businesses. As a result, the process is open to manipulation and distortion. Ostensibly, the problem lies in the unequal or unfair balance that wealthier corporations have over private individuals. For this reason, legislation has capped the payout of awarded damages. Society is finding that tort reform has presented a problem and payouts are not enough to cover medical expenses, damages, or long term care. The responsibility then lies on the state and ultimately the burden is on the taxpayer. By relying upon case law, legal scholars, and federal regulations, I will argue that damage caps have left victims uncompensated in specific cases.
Generally, law refers to a collection of rules that help to control how the affairs of any society are conducted. A society on the other hand is a grouping of people who are united by culture or territorial boundaries. By and large, law and society are closely related and tend to influence each other. In the absence of the law, the society is literally turned into something close to a jungle. In order to ensure that the laws of a society are relevant, it is imperative for state governments and law makers to formulate laws that are in tandem with the constant changes in a given society. In the United States, courts and courtrooms are considered to be the most useful organs for promoting democracy and fairness for all without paying attention to their status inn the society1.
Arguably, developing laws that are relevant to the needs of a society helps a lot when it comes to dealing with new challenges as they as they are encountered2. In order to promote peace and stability in any society, it is important to create harmony between law and the society. However, while it is a fact that legislation plays a vital role in making sure that every person is treated fairly, there are concerns that big businesses are attempting to make this impractical. Apparently, big corporations collude with policy makers at different levels of government so as to ensure that established laws favor them. Generally, this paper looks at the influence of corporate institutions and how it affects tort law and medical compensation.
Tort Law and the Society
Tort is regarded as a civil wrong that does not result from a contract between individuals. Consequently, tort law is generally concerned with the rights of private individuals3. It is designed to protect individuals who have suffered injury or damage inflicted upon them by others. It is also meant to ensure that victims receive full compensation for any harm or injury that is caused to them. Ostensibly, tort law is classified as common law and is usually made by courts. Under tort law, individuals who are responsible for causing harm to others are required to fully compensate the affected persons for the damage caused4. The loss experienced by a victim may include loss of income as he or she recuperates. A victim may also be required to shoulder the full burden of his or her medical expenses. In worst case scenarios, a person may lose his or her body part.
To a large extent, tort law requires offenders to compensate victims by paying them an agreed sum of money. Clearly, the main motivation for tort law is to ensure that victims get full compensation for any harm or damage suffered. However, the onus is usually on the plaintiff to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the suspected offender inflicted pain on him or her5. Tort law focuses on making sure that the affected individual is able to return to his or her original state before the harm or damage took place. Research indicates that in some instances, people have failed to receive their entitled compensation even after showing evidence of pain and suffering due to the harm and damage caused by other people. Apparently, this has been as a result of the use of shrewd tactics by corporate institutions in order to deny victims what they are legally entitled to6.
In the United States, tort law is characterized by four features that are central to how it works. In every tort case, a jury must be involved in the trial and settlements are reached in anticipation of what takes place during the trial. Tort law is also characterized by the existence of liability insurance. Allegedly, the decision by a plaintiff to sue is influenced by the availability of liability insurance7. Over the years, it is presumed that availability of insurance and the scope of tort liability have been influencing each other8. As tort liability continued to expand, liability insurance became increasingly available.
Contingent fee system is the other feature of tort law. In every tort case, the plaintiff’s attorney receives a percentage of what the plaintiff receives in the event that a suit is successful. However, the attorney receives nothing if a suit does not succeed. For this reason, there are some cases that may be preferred over others. An obvious advantage of this feature is that a plaintiff does not need to money to engage the services of an attorney before the commencement of his orb her case. The fourth feature of tort law in the United States is what is commonly referred to as the American rule for costs. The idea behind this feature is to encourage victims to bring their cases to court. Evidently, the four features have had a great effect on tort law and liability.
Largely, tort law is designed to protect employees from the weird schemes of big corporate institutions that are concerned about enriching themselves at the expense of those who work for them. Without restrictions, it is alleged that big businesses will continue to advance while the voiceless in the society remain oppressed. It is for this reason that state governments are required to have a strict monitoring process so as to guarantee the safety of innocent citizens9. Arguably, receiving compensation under tort law is meant to contribute to two key objectives of law. The first objective is to ensure that adequate incentives are available for victims. Secondly, it is presumed that receiving compensation under tort law facilitates spreading losses experienced by victims to a wider pool10.
As pointed out earlier, tort law has developed over the years through the adjudication of different cases brought before courts. Accordingly, the main source of tort law is the courts. This is unlike other laws that are mainly created through deliberations by law makers in parliament11. The classic tort law discourse describes compensation and deterrence as two main factors that explain tort doctrines.
By and large, torts are divided into three main categories that depend on the nature of the defendant’s conduct12. These are intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability. Apparently, negligence is considered to be the most common and victims may be compensated for, among other things, loss of income that happens as they recuperate. In worst case scenarios, it is possible for a victim to lose his or her body part. As explained earlier, victims are usually compensated in monetary terms. The key motivation for tort law is to ensure that victims receive full compensation for any harm or damage caused by an offender13. Plaintiffs are, however, expected to show that the offender actually inflict the supposed pain or damage.
Influence of Corporate Organizations on Legislation
Based on research findings, organizations have the ability to influence their operating environments in a number of ways14. Apparently, this is due to the fact that existing legal systems often get influenced by the historical aspects of the political culture in a given society15. Generally, business corporations have four approaches for dealing with governmental pressures for more social responsibility. During the initial days of Barrack Obama’s presidency, several measures were put in place to regulate the influence of big businesses on government.
One of the strategies used by corporate institutions to influence legislation is personal contact16. Seemingly, this is caused by the fact that many executives in the corporate sector meet and discuss issues at different social forums. Personal contacts and social media networks provide a good opportunity for corporate executives to influence the actions of the legislative arm of the government. Once a consensus has been reached, a business executive may get in touch directly with a politician and present his or her opinion concerning a piece of legislation under consideration17. Ideally, this is done in order to influence how politicians view their legislative role. Lobbying is another strategy that may be used by corporate organizations to influence legislation18. Ordinarily, people or groups come together in order to present the interests of organizations before the political class in the society. Presumably, this is the most effective strategy used by corporate institutions to compromise the stand of legislators on matters of interest to corporate institutions.
Being aware of this, the government of the United States has developed strict guidelines to lessen the impact of lobbying. Any discussion between a lobbyist and a member of the Congress is, for example, limited to official matters only. Anything discussed beyond what is considered to be official has to be put down in writing. Another strategy that is employed by corporate institutions involves the use of political action committees. Political action committees are special organizations that are created to specifically ask for money that is later distributed to political candidates. Considering that big corporate organizations do not have a say in what takes place in parliament, they make use of political action committees to influence the actions of policy makers in the government.
Apart from the above strategies, corporate institutions also depend on the popular culture to influence how courts and courtrooms are viewed by the society. Generally, popular culture is regarded as cultural experiences generated by the culture industry in order to be marketed to the general public through different channels. Ostensibly, the various commodities and experiences that are generated by the culture industry end up affecting the members of the public19. In a study carried out to understand the effect of popular culture on the way Americans perceive courts, it became apparent that the works of pop culture in the United States affects the thinking of judges and American citizens in general20. Through television and social media networks, it is alleged that different individuals have managed to change the way Americans see the work of the courts. In the same way, the judges understanding of their role in the courts has changed to a certain extent.
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Big corporations usually get involved by sponsoring the activities of pop culture. The intentions of corporate institutions are then passed on to the public through the products of pop culture. Eventually, issues that regard medical compensation for victims are neglected. By including trials as well as courtroom proceedings in their products, popular culture has created a means through which the members of the public can see and interpret for themselves the work of the judges. However, a number of judges in the United States are of the opinion that popular culture products do not give an accurate picture of what goes on in the courtrooms. For this reason, it is necessary for members of the public to dedicate time to understanding what exactly takes place in the courtrooms before making any conclusions.
Considering that there is a huge amount of popular culture that relates to courts, it is obvious that popular culture has an impact on judges as well as members of the public. Consequently, popular culture causes American citizens to develop their own perception of what they would like to see happening in the courts. Presumably, popular culture may eventually change the view of Americans on what really makes up justice and the possibility of having a just system. Arguably, popular culture has also been blamed for influencing how US citizens perceive whistle-blowing21. Whistle-blowing involves an employee in an organization coming out in the open and speaking against behaviors that are inappropriate. With the help of popular culture products, big businesses are able to confuse the public and to ensure that any legislation that might affect their operations negatively is not passed.
A number of studies have been undertaken in the past to determine the extent to which popular culture has affected the way Americans think of their legal institutions. Arguably, popular culture tends to endorse courtroom proceedings that are authoritarian and fall short of acceptable moral standards. Since it is in the interest of big corporations to evade compensating employees, they will do everything possible to support the works of popular culture in order to influence the thinking of judges. Big corporations will make use of any available means to reach key decision makers in the society to get rid of unfavorable legal systems. Given that the requirements of tort law are quite strict, corporate institutions are often willing to work closely with those who can help them to put a cap on its impact, and using popular culture happens to be a useful option22.
Unfortunately, doing so denies innocent people the right to be compensated. While, the law is designed to safeguard the interests of many in the society, its effectiveness can easily be limited by the shrewdness of big corporations that are always willing to go to any length to reduce the level of responsibility expected from them toward victims. As pointed out earlier, big corporations will make use of various strategies to penetrate the legal system and influence the decision making process. Tactics used by big businesses include personal contacts, lobbying, and political action committees. Through these approaches, big corporations get to influence the legal system to their advantage. Consequently, it appears that the time spent by courts to decide whether detailed provisions exist to cater for the needs of the public usually does not bear intended fruits23. Using personal contacts in high places, big corporations ensure that specific legislations that might affect their operations directly are either watered down or fail to materialize into becoming law.
In view of the above discussion, it is necessary to reform the legal system so as to protect the interests of the minority. Apparently, some legal practitioners are of the opinion that the legal system should be solid enough to avoid penetration by individuals who are out to seek their own personal interests24. This is, however, complicated by the fact that the legal practice has become very competitive and legal practitioners are compelled to do almost anything so as to survive.
Although law is generally designed to create peace and harmony in the society and to ensure that every person is treated fairly, it may fail to achieve its intended purpose due to the wickedness that exists in the society. As explained in this paper, it is possible for individuals and big corporations in the society to compromise the legal system. In the end, it is the innocent who suffer when their concerns are not addressed. While, it is the right of individuals who have suffered injury or damage to receive full compensation, this may not happen because of the selfish interests of big corporate institutions that work closely with judges and legislators.
To ensure that innocent members of the public are not made to suffer unfairly, it is imperative for state governments to ensure that every law that exists to safeguard victims of different circumstances is adhered to. Failure to do so will create an environment where big corporations will continue to benefit at the expense of innocent citizens. It is the responsibility of the government to guarantee the safety of citizens by making sure that laws are respected by everyone regardless of his or her status in the society.
It is also helpful for state governments to develop strict guidelines in order to ensure that corporate organizations do not use wicked schemes to ruin efforts by victims to receive what they are entitled to. There must be strict measures to counter the negative behavior that is at times portrayed by big corporate institutions for their own selfish benefits. As pointed out earlier, big corporate institutions are willing to do anything and will employ different strategies to realize their selfish desires. For this reason, the government of the United States has come up with strict ways of dealing with individuals as well as big businesses that ignore the requirements of the law.
Abraham, Kenneth. The Forms and Functions of Tort Law. Eagan, Minnesota: Foundation Press Thomson/West, 2012.
Avraham, Ronen. Putting a Price on Pain and Suffering Damages: A Critique of the Current Approaches and Preliminary Proposal for Change. Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 100, No. 1. (2006).
Best, Arthur & Barnes, David. Basic Tort Law: Cases, Statutes, and Problems. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers Online, 2007.
Cane, Peter. Atiyah’s Accidents, Compensation and the Law. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Cross, Frank & Miller, Roger. West’s Legal Environment of Business. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning, 2006.
Edwards, Linda, Edwards, Stanley & Wells, Patricia. Tort Law. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning, 2008.
Engel, David & Engel, Jaruwan. Tort, Custom, and Karma: Globalization and Legal Consciousness in Thailand. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.
Engel, David & McCann, Michael. Fault Lines: Tort Law as Cultural Practice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009.
Eroglu, Muzaffer. Multinational Enterprises and Tort Liabilities: An Interdisciplinary and Comparative Examination. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2008.
Griffin, Ricky. Management. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2012.
Haltom, William & McCann, Michael. Distorting the Law: Politics, Media, and the Litigation Crisis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Kodilinye, Gilbert. Commonwealth Caribbean Tort Law. New York, NY: Routledge, 2014.
Koebele, Michael. Corporate Responsibility Under the Alien Tort Statute: Enforcement of International Law Through US Torts Law. Danvers, MA: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2009.
Lunney, Mark & Oliphant, Ken. Tort Law: Text and Materials. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Papke, David Ray, “The Impact of Popular Culture on American Perceptions of the Courts” (2007). Faculty Publications. Paper 134.
Rhode, Deborah. In the Interests of Justice: Reforming the Legal Profession. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Rosen, Lawrence. Law as Culture: An Invitation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.
Sarra, Janis. Corporate Governance in Global Capital Markets. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 2011.
Tracy, Michael. Whistleblowing in Corporate America: Organizational Factors and Their Influence on the Employee Decision-making Process. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest, 2006.
Wiist, William. The Bottom Line or Public Health: Tactics Corporations Use to Influence Health and Health Policy, and What We Can Do to Counter Them. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010.
- David Ray Papke, “The Impact of Popular Culture on American Perceptions of the Courts” (2007). 3. Faculty Publications. Paper 134.
- Frank Cross & Roger Miller, West’s Legal Environment of Business. (Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning, 2006). 56.
- Kenneth Abraham, The Forms and Functions of Tort Law. (Eagan, Minnesota: Foundation Press Thomson/West, 2012). 1.
- David Engel & Michael McCann, Fault Lines: Tort Law as Cultural Practice. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009). 35.
- Muzaffer Eroglu, Multinational Enterprises and Tort Liabilities: An Interdisciplinary and Comparative Examination. (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2008). 98.
- David Engel & Jaruwan Engel, Tort, Custom, and Karma: Globalization and Legal Consciousness in Thailand. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010). 2.
- Gilbert Kodilinye, Commonwealth Caribbean Tort Law. (New York, NY: Routledge, 2014). 35.
- Kenneth Abraham, The Forms and Functions of Tort Law. (Eagan, Minnesota: Foundation Press Thomson/West, 2012). 4.
- Mark Lunney & Ken Oliphant, Tort Law: Text and Materials. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013). 21.
- Ronen Avraham, Putting a Price on Pain and Suffering Damages: A Critique of the Current Approaches and Preliminary Proposal for Change. Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 100, No. 1. (2006). 88.
- Arthur Best & David Barnes, Basic Tort Law: Cases, Statutes, and Problems. (New York, NY: Aspen Publishers Online, 2007). 42.
- Linda Edwards, Stanley Edwards & Patricia Wells, Tort Law. (Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning, 2008). 51.
- Michael Koebele, Corporate Responsibility Under the Alien Tort Statute: Enforcement of International Law Through US Torts Law. (Danvers, MA: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2009). 67.
- Ricky Griffin, Management. (Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2012). 108.
- Lawrence Rosen, Law as Culture: An Invitation. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006). 141.
- William Haltom & Michael McCann, Distorting the Law: Politics, Media, and the Litigation Crisis. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009). 55.
- Ricky Griffin, Management. (Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2012). 108.
- William Wiist, The Bottom Line or Public Health: Tactics Corporations Use to Influence Health and Health Policy, and What We Can Do to Counter Them. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010). 103.
- David Ray Papke, “The Impact of Popular Culture on American Perceptions of the Courts” (2007). 2. Faculty Publications. Paper 134.
- David Ray Papke, “The Impact of Popular Culture on American Perceptions of the Courts” (2007). 1. Faculty Publications. Paper 134.
- Michael Tracy, Whistleblowing in Corporate America: Organizational Factors and Their Influence on the Employee Decision-making Process. (Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest, 2006). 19.
- Janis Sarra, Corporate Governance in Global Capital Markets. (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 2011). 24.
- Peter Cane, Atiyah’s Accidents, Compensation and the Law. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013). 97.
- Deborah Rhode, In the Interests of Justice: Reforming the Legal Profession. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003). 9.