As I write this it is Saturday evening, July 30, 2011 and we Americans are watching and listening to our representatives in Washington attempt to come to some resolution on raising the debt ceiling. This has caused me to reflect on how personal injury and medical malpractice plaintiff trial lawyers are a force for reducing the United States’ national deficit. Why?
Each year we have all heard that thousands upon thousands of people are injured and killed as a result of medical malpractice. Many more are injured or killed in car accidents, from dangerous products, dangerous conditions on property and many other incidents involving unsafe circumstances. Thousands of the victims of this kind of negligence are on government health benefits, whether they be Medicare recipients or sometimes Medicaid patients. When Medicare and Medicaid patients get injured, guess who pays for all of their medical expenses? That’s right, you and I, the American taxpayers. When you combine all of the Medicare and Medicaid patients who fall victim of neglect and require extensive medical treatment you begin to imagine the enormous annual price tag we pay for taxpayer funded medical care that was caused as a result of someone else’s negligence.
As most everyone realizes, liability insurance is absolutely pervasive in our American society. From automobile insurance, home owner’s insurance, hospital insurance, nursing home insurance, physician insurance and property and casualty insurance. Should not this private insurance pay for medical expenses incurred as a result of a negligent act? Of course. The problem is that insurance companies typically fight their obligation to pay for accident related medical expenses stemming from a liability claim. Then when the claim is denied or inadequately paid, taxpayers wind up paying for all of that gigantic hospital bill, doctor’s bills, nursing home bills, diagnostic service providers, laboratory bills, etc. These insurance companies are sticking us taxpayers with gigantic medical bills that should otherwise be paid by them.
This is where the trial lawyer steps in, not only as an advocate for his client to pursue fair compensation for his client’s injuries, but also secondarily as a quasi agent of the state, an advocate for our nation, to recoup the gigantic monies paid by the department of health and human services through our Medicare and Medicaid programs. When a trial lawyer gets involved in a case on behalf of a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary, we are required to notify Medicare and Medicaid of our representation. We then correspond with the government to ensure we are made aware of all the medical expenses the government (us taxpayers) have paid on behalf of the person. We include these expenses in the claim for damages against the at fault party’s insurance company, who should rightly pay for them. At the successful conclusion of a case, we send money to Medicare or Medicaid to reimburse the government (us taxpayers) for that money that was paid. This is a very important aspect to the work we trial lawyers do in fighting an injustice and is one way we help contribute to the health of our national economy by making sure us taxpayers do not pay for enormous medical expenses that should otherwise be paid by private insurance. If these claims were never filed, if these lawsuits were never filed and prosecuted, and if any jury fails to compensate a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary injured through negligence, us taxpayers wind up paying for all of these expenses that should be paid by private insurance. Any effort by Congress to diminish your Constitutional Right to Trial by Jury secured by the 7th Amendment is no less offensive as an effort to restrict your First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion or any other freedom guaranteed by our Bill of Rights. Always keep in mind that our judicial system is the ultimate and final protector of your personal rights and liberties and fight any effort to in any way diminish the critical role our judiciary plays in our constitutional system. Thank you for reading.