For claim adjusters, the tort landscape is their battleground. It shapes and frames the rules of the game. Those rules can mean the difference between a boxcar reserve or a nuisance value number, between a defense verdict or a runaway award. A recent Business Insurance article (BI, 11/10/08, “Risk: Future of Several Issues Debated,” p. 25) cites three factors that may cause the Obama Administration to impact the tort landscape.
First Supreme Court appointments likely to be made within the next four years may influence areas of employment law.
Second, an Obama Administration may take a more circumspect view on Federal preemption. This arcane defense has huge financial implications for sectors including but not limited to pharmaceutical and medical devices. Preemption is the notion that, in some cases, Federal approval of a tightly regulated product renders that product immune from state tort claims saying that a product is defective. Billions of claim and defense dollars ride on this issue.
Third, Vice President-elect Joe Biden has been a consistent opponent of tort reform.
So, while the build-up for the January inauguration continues, claimants and members of the personal injury bar may ask, if only rhetorically, “Can we be more successful in pursuing claims starting in 2009?”
The likely answer is, “Yes we can!”