Tort reform is a scam. A big lie. It was invented by big business for big business. It is a way for the tobacco companies, Exxon, Enron, AIG, Wall Street, and the Madoffs of the world to turn their poop into your meatloaf.

So where did this thing called “tort reform” come from, and what exactly is it?

what is tort reform

A brief history of tort reform

Back in the 1950s, the insurance industry figured out that they were the ones who were ultimately held responsible for compensating victims of personal injury. How is insurance responsible, you ask? Let’s consider the role of negligence.

Let’s say a reckless driver crashes at a high rate of speed into a family, killing them all. The reckless driver has committed a tort. A tort is defined as a wrongful act (or failure to act) which injures another and for which the law permits a civil (non-criminal) action to be brought in court.

The reckless driver may go to jail for any crimes he has committed. But he will not go to jail for his torts. The penalties for torts are civil damages. The basic idea is to compensate the victims for their injuries and losses. Obviously, the law can’t go back in time and take away the injuries.

Thus, the only reasonable remedy is money damages. And that is why we have liability insurance. The reckless driver’s insurance company will have to pay these damages.

But there’s a problem – Insurance doesn’t like to pay

Insurance companies love it when we write them a check for our premiums. Insurance companies hate it when they have to pay that money back in claims. Paying claims means less money for the CEOs. Fewer mansions for the CEOs. Fewer yachts for the CEOs. They wanted to figure out a way not to pay fair compensation to injured people. And presto. We have the birth of “tort reform.”

So how did “tort reform” progress from a foul, rancid, greedy idea to a political agenda? That is a topic for another day.