Medical malpractice attorneys are refuting the notion that claims are out of control. Many lawmakers, insurance companies, and medical practitioners, however, are championing tort reform, which seeks to place limitations on litigation or damages awarded in civil claims. These non-legislative proceedings have long been a way for individuals who have suffered harm to gain compensation from those responsible.
Tort reform proponents, however, believe (or would like the rest of us to believe) that medical malpractice claims pose undue hardships to doctors, insurance companies, the legal system, and the economy. Their messages often capitalize on several misconceptions about tort litigation, including:
• Medical liability expenses hurt the economy. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the United States spent $55.6 billion, or 2.4 percent, of 2008’s healthcare spending on “medical liability costs.”
• High claims payouts lead to financial burdens on medical malpractice insurance companies. Regardless of whether a state imposes caps on claims payouts, insurance companies continue to rake in enormous earnings. For example, between 2003 and 2010, insurance companies in Florida reported 4300 percent profits, a staggering amount that should leave no question as to their profitability.
• We need damages caps in medical malpractice cases to keep insurance costs down. According to a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court, no apparent correlation between medical malpractice settlement caps and insurance rates exists. The American Association for Justice further cites several sources that attribute high insurance rates to stock speculation and “mismanagement” of insurance company resources.
• Healthcare providers will abandon states without medical malpractice caps for states that do. This myth is based on the faulty premise (see #3) that caps lower insurance rates. According to the American Association for Justice, the overall number of practicing physicians in every state has been steadily increasing.
Examining these falsehoods propagated by tort reform enthusiasts seems to reveal either a lack of understanding in the financial realities of medical malpractice claims, or a determination to increase profits for insurance companies at the expense of vulnerable patients.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Regan, Zambri & Long have been working with clients for many years to obtain fair and equitable compensation for those who have suffered harm. If you or someone you know has suffered from medical malpractice, contact us today to set up a free consultation.