Thursday, October 14, 2010

Misperceptions of the Law

I am always amazed that many hard working Americans do not appreciate that the legal system offers them a tool to have their case decided fairly. Instead the concerted effort to paint the legal system as some sort of legalized gambling tool used by frauds to make slick "trial atttorneys" rich has become a main stream belief. Based upon that misperception many citizens are actively fighting the battles waged by major corporations to tip the scales of justice in favor of insurance companies and businesses and away from individuals.

A more thoughtful analysis of the issues can demonstrate where people are often misled. For instance, the primary concern of most people seems to be that attorneys make too much money on the cases. Although I believe this is a statement genuinely believed by some, it appears to lack an understanding of the amount of time and expense spent on cases, and that attorneys may work for 2 to 4 years or more on a case (such view also ignores the contingency fee arrangement that has attorneys compesnation tied to how successfully they can handle their client's case but conversely risking not getting paid at all). Regardless, persons having this view, one would presume, have heard of the exceedingly rare instances in which class action suits result in Multi-Million dollar fees. Althoug, I would contend that most "trial lawyers" make far less than people assume, the logical answer for those that do believe that they should regulate how much attorneys make is of course to cap attorneys' fees at a number that allows for these cases to be brought, and compensates the attorneys for this specialized knowledge and risk, but is also reasonable and not excessive. However, this is not the solution offered. In fact, the solution puhed by insurance companies and picked-up by some well intentioned citizens is to cap Damages (the amount which the client is awarded in the case) -not to directly cap attorneys' fees. - This is like refusing treatment to a patient because you don't want the doctor to make any more money. There is simply no reason the "solution" can not be more narrowly tailored to accomplish the goal, except that the group pushing these "reforms" has different goals than the citizens they have convinced to support their cause. This is a great result for insurance companies and at-fault hospitals and businesses because they now do not have full liability for their negligence or other misdeeds. End game of these reforms is that they deny injured persons full compensation from the wrong-doer and in some cases deny citizens access to the legal system.

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