Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Delaware courts offer best protection against excessive jury awards:
Many, if not most, lawyers take medical malpractice suits on contingency; that is, they get paid only if they are successful. Such lawsuits are almost always complicated and involve not only doctors backed by big insurance companies but well-financed medical institutions as well.

An intelligent lawyer is unlikely to take a case on contingency without believing it has merit. Accepting bad cases on contingency leads to financial ruin.

In addition, there can be other consequences of serious negligence besides economic loss. Injuries can damage lives for years in ways difficult to determine financially. Shouldn't victims receive some compensation? Shouldn't the negligent pay?

Of course, the editorial also posits that punitive damages should be paid to the state. If that was the case, then what lawyer, who knows that neither he nor his client will be paid based on a punitive award, will pursue such damages? His duty is to protect his client; punitives that don't go to his client not only don't benefit his client, they also draw the focus away from the client's case. Thus, it would be unethical to spend effort and focus on a claim that does not work to the client's benefit.

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