Washington Tort Wars

Even with the COVID-19 crisis dominating our lives, there is still politics going on all over the country. A term mostly used by the Capitol Hill insiders as ‘tort wars’ which are also still happening.

No legislative meeting would be complete without a hot debate on tort wars. The debate has existed for decades without resolution.

A tort is a wrongful act or an act that infringes on the right of another leading to civil liability. The only case that cannot be referred to as a tort is when one is under contract.

An example is if a driver is not paying attention to driving and it results in a fender bender or something more serious, that can be called a tort since you can sue the guilty party for damages.

As you can see there are many scenarios that can be called a tort so it is often up to the legislature in Washington to describe what it is. The political process to do is often long and very expensive, consuming a lot of taxpayer money.

Tort War Winners

Corporations seem to be the biggest winners of the tort winners in Washington. They have won several large battles in civil liability.

Employers, businesses and insurance interests are the greatest winners in the tort wars. Their power, financial reach and influence has proved instrumental in their victories.

There is a lot of money that the state is not generating because of unclear definitions of civil liability. In other states like New York, they have increased their revenue by introducing new laws against civil liability violations.

It is difficult to know exactly what exactly will be the extent of the benefit of such new laws to Washington state. But looking at other states, we can assuredly say that it will be significant.

New Legislation

This year will be different and will see fewer bills being reviewed and even less being enacted. Therefore, new litigation on defining torts will likely not be made.

The tort wars are hence sure to continue in Washington and in other states. Government, state agencies and personal injury lawyers are at the forefront of advocating for new legislation to add clarity to the law.

However, if history is to go by, the tort wars will be decided by a lot of politics, not facts or logic.