Most people's understanding of tort reform is that it is stopping so called "frivilous lawsuits" and if they ever need the jury system, well, their case would be a good case and theirs could never be "frivolous". People buy the propaganda of doctors fleeing the state and undeserving people gaming the system. This is simply not true, and the tort reform advocates know it. They simply do not like being sued and have the money to buy politicians and change the laws. Then they scare the public with claims of rising health care costs and insurance costs, convincing them it is better to hand over their 7th Amendment right to a trial by jury, one of the basic founding fundamentals of the justice system in America. See St Louis Medical Malpractice Article: Medical Malpractice Myth "Too Many Lawsuits" Debunked by Harvard
A try to be apolitical as I believe both parties are misguided, however, now that election season is approaching, we are hearing from one particular candidate about tort reform as one of his top two talking points straight from his website. Really? in this day of economic uncertainty, two wars ongoing, jobless rates through the roof, national debt and one of his main talking points is tort reform.
Well, here is how well it has worked in Texas, not only has it shut the courthouse doors for most average people, but it is also costing everyone more money, that's right, the costs savings was a MYTH! An independent study of data on Medicare spending in Texas shows that for the years following the enactment of medical malpractice caps and reform costs have gone up outpacing the national average:
Not only has per person Medicare spending in Texas continued to exceed the national average, the data also show that such spending rose at nearly twice the national average (15.1% versus 8.7%) in the four years since the medical liability reform legislation was passed. Furthermore, before such "cost-saving" legislation went into effect, per person Medicare reimbursement rates in Texas were the tenth highest in the nation. In 2007, reimbursement rates in Texas had risen to the second highest. None of this is resounding evidence that tort reform has been successful in controlling health care costs.
See the graph below from Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, "Selected Medicare reimbursement measures."
So, the Too may lawsuits and frivolous claims has been proven wrong time and time again, even by Harvard University. And the rising healthcare costs myth has been proven wrong by the Texas experiment in shredding individuals' 7th Amendment Right to trial by jury. Yes, you still get a jury, but they can decide very little, as all their judgment and decisions have been legislatively hogtied.
As a St Louis medical malpractice attorney, I have this conversation with prospective clients all the time. when I tell them they do not have a case because of the 2005 reforms, they cannot believe it and often say that was meant for frivolous cases, and their case is a good case. Once you have some skin in the game through the death of a loved one or serious injury as the result of a doctor's negligence, you realize tort reform is just plain wrong.
Also see, Missouri Injury Lawyer Article: "Doctor Speaks Out Against Medical Malpractice Caps"
I don't know about you, but I feel better about 12 individual citizens, like you and me, deciding my case rather than a politician years before deciding it for me to protect insurance company profits.