We all have the right to safety, to know that if we are harmed, those responsible will be held accountable, regardless of their occupation. For years, insurance companies and lobbyists have tried to sway state legislators and the public to adopt tort reform to supposedly bring down health care costs and prevent doctors from fleeing to tort reformed states.
New research confirms, however, that even extreme tort reforms, such as caps on damage awards, are anything but a solution and have not solved an alleged insurance crisis or medical litigation problems. The researchers found that while medical malpractice lawsuit filings dropped in tort reform states, they also decreased in states without such reforms. The researchers also found substantial evidence of a “doubling down” effect:
- one reduction in filings due to tort reform, and
- more reductions in filings based on non-statutory reasons.
They concluded that, because the positive impacts of tort reform have been radically exaggerated, and because the effects of tort reform disproportionately hurt those most vulnerable, “claimants are being doubly squeezed without significant public benefit.”
While the benefits of tort reform have been oversold, health care costs continue to skyrocket. Have your health insurance premiums ever gone down? Do you get hit with annual double-digit increases in premiums? Do prescriptions cost less these days? Are your health insurance benefits better or worse than just a few years ago?
Meanwhile, are medical malpractice costs climbing? Nope. According to the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management’s Hospital and Physician Professional Liability Benchmark Analysis, healthcare providers continue to have relatively stable malpractice costs.
Are patients in the United States safer? Not hardly. Testimony given at a United States Senate hearing in July 2014 verified that preventable medical errors cost the lives of over 1,000 Americans every day and are the No. 3 killer in the United States behind cancer and heart disease.
Are courts being overwhelmed with personal injury and wrongful death cases? No, and in Arizona, the number of tort lawsuits continues to decline.
We already have many tort reforms in Arizona, yet our legislators are persuaded virtually every year by pro-insurance lobbyists to propose and vote for more. Whenever they do, they seek to curtail our rights, not protect them.
If you believe you or a loved one were harmed due to a medical error, give me a call at (480) 833-1113, I am an experienced medical malpractice attorney willing to help you find the answers and help you need.
(1) Scott DeVito and Andrew W. Jurs, “Doubling-Down” for Defendants: The Pernicious Effects of Tort Reform, 118 PENN. ST. L. REV. 543, 599 (Winter 2014).
Attorney Profile:Kevin Chapman, Personal Injury Attorney
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