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Politician advocates tort reform despite spinal cord injury

New Jersey residents may have heard that the lead gubernatorial candidate in another state, who has been a proponent of tort reform laws, has recently come under scrutiny on account of the settlement he received decades ago following his own personal injury case.

While still a young man, the politician was running through an affluent neighborhood when a tree from one of the homeowner's yards fell on him. The tree had apparently rotted through. The weight of the tree caused the man to suffer a permanent spinal cord injury, leaving him paralyzed.

The man sued both the homeowner and the company that had inspected the tree and found it to be in adequate health, alleging that their negligence caused his injuries. He eventually settled his claims and under that settlement gets paid a monthly some for the rest of his life. He has been paid $5.8 million to date. The compensation the man received in the settlement went towards paying off his medical expenses, as well as compensating him for lost wages, mental anguish and pain and suffering.

Some of his political opponents say that the man has since deprived others of the same opportunity he had to get compensated for his injuries. The man has been a staunch advocate for tort reform and has pushed for measures like caps on punitive damages and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. Critics say that these caps make it much harder for an injured person to get a settlement from an insurance company that could just as easily tie the case up in court.

In many instances, even those who are most skeptical of personal injury lawsuits find themselves needing compensation for their injuries at some point. For this reason, it is important that victims of spinal cord injuries be able to obtain compensation from those responsible for their injuries.

Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "Abbott faces questions about how his settlement squares with his views on lawsuit reform," Jay Root, Aug. 6, 2013

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