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Civil Rights and Personal Injury Attorney Discusses the Negative Impacts of Tort Reform

On Behalf of | Nov 4, 2014 | Medical Malpractice |

I’ve blogged about “Tort Reform” – attempts, under the misleading word “reform” (which implies a good, necessary change) – to gut the civil justice system by limiting access to a jury trial, compelling arbitration, erecting barriers to suit and by limiting damages.

It’s always nice to be right.

Take a look at the article “How Tort ‘Reform’ Ruins Health Care” in the Huffington Post, which talked about “caps” – limits – on damages.

And before this goes on, remember; I have nothing against “the American Way,” or capitalism (I’m an employer myself) or against the concept of a company striving to do well. I started my own enterprise – this law firm – and I know what goes into running a business (the financial risks, the headaches, etc.)


What I am strongly against is the idea that corporate power and the lies that corporations tell about how “awesome” they are, and all the influence they have over politicians, and the laws that “corporations” are pushing to pass to help the “corporations” (rather than working people) should rule legal policy.

How Tort ‘Reform’ Ruins Health Care is good stuff, because it justifies what I’ve been saying for so long about what’s wrong with the “Tort Deform” movement. They say that taking away rights makes rights better. Limiting access to juries makes justice more obtainable. Limiting damages makes doctors more accountable.

It’s fucking Orwellian.

The first study in the article, click here to read this study, found that a reduced risk of medical malpractice litigation, due to state adoption of damages caps, lead to higher rates of preventable adverse patient safety events in hospitals. In other words, because doctors and/or staff know that there are caps for med mal litigation, they don’t need to provide such attentive care. Really? Does that make sense to anyone? The pressure is off of the doctors and hospitals because if they get sued by a patient that gets an infection due to the “relaxation of care”, or pneumonia due to the “failure to reinforce care standard,” the patient will be capped at a certain amount for damages. So the mentality starts to become “who cares how we treat our patients? It doesn’t matter. The justice system has our back.” Once again, tort reform at its best. So much for general deterrence.

The second study, click here to read this study, found that caps on damages increased health care costs, rather than decreasing those costs, as supporters of damages caps have claimed. “Damages caps lead to 4-5 % higher Medicare Part B (physician) spending.” The reasons may have to do with physicians practicing riskier medicine in “cap” states, such as performing costly “high-risk services or procedures,” which they avoid in a State where the tort system’s “general deterrence” function works properly. Doctors are taking more risks in states with damages caps, so, again, how are damages caps and tort reform good for this country?

The third study, click here to read study, found that when a state passed caps – ostensibly to attract the doctors whom we’re always told are “fleeing” states where tort reform isn’t passed – the only kinds of doctors it seemed to attract were plastic surgeons. The study found no evidence that the adoption of damages caps increased physician supply in nine new-cap states, relative to twenty no-cap states. The article concluded that states should look for something other than tort reform and damages caps if they want to attract more physicians. More strong evidence that shows that tort reform and damages caps don’t have the positive effect that their supporters seem to think they do.

Overall, tort reform is not making things better for the people. It’s only benefiting the big insurance companies and large corporations who get wealthier and more powerful each day with these reforms. People need to educate themselves about what our politicians are really doing when they are trying to reform the justice system. Are they really trying to help benefit the people, or are they really just looking out for the corporations filling their political party’s coffers?