Tort Reform: Med Mal Claims Overblown in Texas – Frivolous Lawsuits Are a Myth

Tort_reform Thanks to Bob Kraft’s Blog for bringing to light the facts regarding the reality behind the Texas "tort reform" legislation of 2003.  In essence, the "tort reform" is nothing more than the insurance companies’ ability to lobby to put a cap on pain and suffering while increasing their profits.  They have essentially stripped victims of medical malpractice from the ability to access the courts. 

Watch Fox 4 "Investigation-Tort Reform Questions" here

Read the Fox 4 "Investigation: Tort Reform Benefits Questioned" here.

The rationale behind the legislation was that doctors were leaving in droves due to high medical malpractice insurance premiums and the threat of lawsuits.  The reality is that there were more doctors in Texas before the legislation passed and that since the legislation has passed health insurance premiums for the average family has increased from $8,000 per year to $11,000 per year, there are less doctors in Texas, insurance company profits have skyrocketed and legitimate victims of medical malpractice cannot find attorneys to represent them because the cost of the suit is so exorbitant that the limits on pain and suffering preclude attorneys from being able to represent the client.

The Fox 4 Investigation looks at the following 3 questions in detail:

  1. Was Tort Reform Necessary? No, because when adjusted for population and inflation, a bipartisan study conducted by law professors finds no surge in lawsuits, Texas malpractice payouts in 2003 were among the lowest in the country and there was no crisis in medical malpractice lawsuits.
  2. Is Tort Reform Working? One of the rationales of tort reform was that doctors were leaving in droves from Texas before 2003.  As it turns out, there were more doctors per capita in Texas before tort reform than after.
  3. Are Texans benefiting from the legislation? Well, the insurance companies are benefiting. "According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners , companies selling medical malpractice insurance in Texas made $807,325,106 profit in the first three years following tort reform.  In 2006, more than 50 cents of every dollar collected was profit."  However, the average Texan has not benefited: "According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation , the average family paid $8,255 for health insurance 2001. That cost had increased to $11,533 by 2005."

Related Links

Tort Reform Brings More Doctors to Texas, But Only for Rich People (Mother Jones)

McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuit and Beyond: The Tort "Reform" Myth Machine (Jon Greenbaum, Peacecouncil.net)

Texas Newspaper Accused of Tort-Reform Bias (NPR)

Frameshop: Compensation Caps, aka Medical Malpractice Tort Reform (Blog for Arizona.com)

Texas Insurer Admits Caps Don’t Work (Law Office of Beth S. Janicek)

Insurance Industry Now Thinks Texas Needs More Litigation (The Tortellini)

Benched DVD: The Corporate Takeover of the Judiciary (Trialnotes)

Don’t let ’em fool you.  Frivolous Lawsuits are a Myth created by the insurance company lobbies to deny you access to the courts.  Period.

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