In the U.S., tort reform has become a conflicting political issue - and
it has gained notoriety for the heated rhetoric coming from each side.
A recent opinion piece published in
Forbes takes a firm stance regarding this rhetoric by stating that the insurance
industry succeeded in “tricking” more than half the states
into implementing tort reform. According to the author, their achievement
was based on several myths:
- One popular myth was the idea that restricting victims’ rights to
file malpractice suits would improve health care and reduce costs, in
part because physicians and health care providers afraid of being sued
practiced “defensive medicine,” involving unnecessary and
costly tests and procedures. A major study published in the New England
Journal of Medicine busted this myth when it found tort reform measures
to protect ER physicians from lawsuits did not reduce the number of tests
and procedures they ordered.
- Other popular myths fueling tort reform included: (1) making it more difficult
for medical malpractice victims to file claims would limit the number
of “frivolous” lawsuits that drain court resources; (2) capping
damages would help control juries from awarding large sums; and (3) medical
insurance would be more affordable and help reverse a shortage in physicians
leaving due to high premiums.
Tort reform legislation was a fallacy, well-crafted and perpetuated by
insurance companies and big corporations to inhibit consumers’ access
to courts. The article - which you can
read here - asserts that none of these benefits were realized in states that adopted
tort reform, primarily because they didn’t exist in the first place.
This includes the fallacy of a reduction of medical malpractice premiums.
Insurance premiums were not lowered.
For the average citizen, tort reform seems like a comprehensive effort
to change our civil justice system. For those with a monetary stake in
what tort reform could accomplish - or save them - it becomes something
else, a guise or ruse or perfect opportunity to accomplish their hidden
goals. Ultimately, big business wins again.
Roman & Gaynor, we believe the civil justice system exists to protect the rights of the
injured and the wronged, and we are passionate about harnessing the power
of this system for the benefit of our clients. Our lawyers are always
available to help individuals and families assert their right to have
their voices heard, even against powerful corporations and big business.