Public hospitals and government health programs are overburdened with caring for the victims of guns and tobacco. Lawsuits are being filed almost daily to make gun and cigarette manufacturers accountable to the taxpayers for the harm they cause to society, evidenced by the huge medical costs of firearm and tobacco related injuries and diseases. The courts are overburdened by class actions. Congress cant seem to solve the problem. Heres a viable solution: One, accept the fact that there is a crisis; Two, accept the need to use the Police Power of the State to fix it; and Three, enact no fault legislation just like Workers Compensation to take care of the "victims" who are now burdens on society.
Didnt we take away an injured workers right to sue his or her employer and replace the tort action with a no fault benefit package called Workers Compensation beginning around 1913?
Why not take away both individual and collective rights to sue gun manufacturers and cigarette makers and replace them with "mandatory insurance" paid for by firearm manufacturers and cigarette producers? All a "victim" would have to do is prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she was injured by guns or smokes and the insurance would automatically kick in to cover the costs of medical care and lost wages.
Benefit levels could be made ridiculously low, like they are for workers injured on the job who have no right to sue their employer even for gross acts of negligence. That way the poor gun and tobacco manufacturers wouldnt have to pay too much for insurance coverage. The process of adjudicating claims could be made so cumbersome that benefits could be tied up for years and many victims would go away rather than fight. We could make attorney fees so low that claimants couldnt find competent counsel to assist them in what should have been a self executing law in the first place.
The new laws could provide for the decision makers, judges, to be politically appointed so they could be ousted from office if they didnt toe the line of the sitting governor. We could even eliminate benefits entirely for those victims who used drugs or alcohol while smoking or getting shot. The law could reduce benefits 25 percent for any victim not wearing a bullet proof vest or smoking filtered cigarettes.
Since there could be no suits against the gun or cigarette producers, they could up the nicotine levels all they want and make weapons that go off accidentally without fear of big jury verdicts.
Some typical benefit provisions could be: a maximum of 2 years to fully recover from cancer or a serious bullet wound to the head; no more than 2/3 of pay for lost earnings with a cap of 100% of the statewide average weekly wage; all benefits offset by receipt of collateral income from social security, pensions or the like; medical co-payments and mandatory HMO type care.
Each year when the legislature meets the big tobacco and big gun lobby can pour millions of dollars into changing the law to make it harder for the victims to get benefits and make the benefits less and less. The victims would not have any say since they would be looked down upon as "smokers" or "gun nuts" or "criminals." If their lawyers tried to stand up for their clients rights, the lawyers would be perceived as greedy and looking out for their own interests instead of the interests of their clients.
Lets do it! Lets screw the smokers and the shooting victims just like we screw injured workers. Why not? Havent we gotten away with Workers Compensation Laws for almost a century now?
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