You can’t fight City Hall. Isn’t that what we’re told? The political system creates too steep a hill. Does the two party system cause the wheels of justice to grind to a halt? Not always. In fact, the opposite can happen. With one party in power the flood gates open. That one-sided bill sitting up on Capitol Hill gets pushed through in expedited fashion.
Why should you care? If the party in power’s agenda is contrary to your beliefs or best interests, you should care deeply. As an attorney who represents the “little guy” against the “big guy,” that big guy wants to limit or remove one’s ability to hold him accountable. The big guy, also known as the insurance company or any corporation, contributes campaign donations in hopes of currying favor-maybe we all do-which can take the form of a bill introduced into our Nevada legislature.
A bill that would reduce or take away the rights of ALL Nevada citizens? We know why it would pass: Somebody benefits. How would it pass? Lawmakers would couch legislation limiting or removing rights as a necessary evil to stop those bad personal injury attorneys and their frivolous lawsuits. Sounds like a noble cause, doesn’t it? So, because of some bad eggs, we’re going to throw away the whole lot…and not buy any more eggs…forever. A few bad eggs is reason never to consume another egg again, right? What if the eggs weren’t the problem in the first place?
Throwing away our citizens’ rights for an argument that may or may not exist, and, if it does, it’s the exception, is only done if it would serve the greater good.
Are Medical Provider’s Rights Greater Than Ours?
By placing medical providers above the law, like we did in 2004 with the Keep Our Doctors in Nevada campaign, we made our medical system better, right? That’s what the tv commercials and t-shirts our doctors were wearing told us to do. Let’s ask the patients of the Endoscopy Center who were exposed or infected with Hepatitis due to medical negligence. Or, we could ask Dr. Desai? Though, he may be a little biased-similar to those telling us to vote for these types of laws in the first place.
What’s really scary is there are several bills that are either pending or have already passed through the Nevada Legislature right now that would terribly hurt those who had the misfortune or who will someday have the misfortune to be hurt or killed by someone else’s screw up. If you own a home, you can kiss many of your rights to go after the builder and contractor. That “emergency” bill has passed and it’s up to the Governor to sign it.
Examples of Nevada Legislature That Potentially Harm
Senate Bill (S.B.) 291: Currently, defendants are responsible for the total medical expenses of those they harm. They do not receive the benefit of whether these expenses were paid by the victim’s health or auto insurance, since the victim was the one who paid for insurance and, if anyone should receive any benefit, it should be the person harmed by the negligence of another. This bill would reduce the defendants responsibility to little or nothing based on what was paid by the victim’s insurance.
S.B. 300: Extinguishes joint and several liability. With several liability only, those will sufficient insurance or ability to pay are not jointly responsible for all the damages. In effect, a significant number of drivers are underinsured, so victims would be unable to obtain this shortage from the negligent co-defendant.
A.B. 7: “No pay no play” – Regardless of whether the defendant was 100% to blame for causing a car wreck (e.g., running a red light, driving 100 in a 55), if the person they hurt or who later dies did not have car insurance, they are not entitled to pain and suffering.
S.B. 161: For businesses distributing or selling defective products that cause damage, injury or death, this bill would make them immune from any liability, with some exceptions.
S.B. 292: For victims of medical malpractice (i.e., when a health care provider is negligent and causes injury or death to a patient), this bill a) expands those covered under the $350,000 limit on general damages and the one year time limit to file a claim, b) limits all plaintiffs against all defendants to a total of $350,000 in general damages no matter how many different negligent doctors or nurses there are and no matter how many people were injured or killed, c) allows the defendant to avoid blame by pointing the finger at someone who that defendant has chosen not to bring into the case for whatever reason, and do so at the last minute before the case goes to trial, and d) anytime the victim hires an expert, the defendant can prevent the victim from reading or using an existing law that presumes negligence when a patient is burned, has surgery to wrong body part, and has an medical instrument left inside them.
S.B. 296: Prevents punishing some defendants with punitive damages for their intentional or malicious conduct. Removing the fear of punitive damages will remove the motivation for producing safe products when the products are profitable (e.g., Ford Pinto, many prescription medications, etc.).
We Stand for You
We here at Bertoldo, Baker, Carter, Smith & Cullen, like many other consumer advocate firms, try our hardest to carry your voice to Carson City, but often that voice goes unheard due to the perceived bias of the messenger, as well as the motivation to appease constituents. You need to make your voices heard. It will soon be too late. The law needs to protect our rights, not remove them. Government has chosen to push laws that protect big business at the expense of hurting their fellow citizens of ALL parties. Every law they pass with affect themselves and their friends and family regardless of political affiliation. Helping the big guy is counterproductive when the little guy is you.
It’s ironic that many of those tasked with making the laws would consider holding others above the law. When the crap hits the fan, it won’t be just some trial attorney rhetoric. Let’s hope it’s not over. There are some good people representing Nevada. Let’s hope they will choose to fight City Hall.