Friday, January 28, 2011

Bad news for injury victims in Wisconsin

Wisconsin's governor recently signed into law a statute that makes it more difficult for plaintiffs to obtain punitive damages for those cases in which plaintiffs do obtain punitives, the new law places a cap on them. The law also places a cap on noneconomic damages in suits against nursing homes. Read more about it here and here. The cap on damages in cases against nursing homes is particularly disturbing. Since nursing home residents typically do not work or have other significant sources of income, most of the value of the injuries they suffer for mistreatment in the facilities that are supposed to provide them services is in the nature of non-economic damages. Unless the amount of economic ("out of pocket") damages is significant enough to counter the costs of litigation, limiting the ability of plaintiffs to recover for non-economis damages makes it unlikely that plaintiffs who suffer damages will attempt to sue at all. This eliminates some of the incentive for the facilities to provide quality care and is unfair to a whole population of possible victims many of whom are not in a position to protect themselves. Thanks to the TortsProf blog for the update.

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