When politicians and pundits talk about tort reform, the onus is placed on trial and personal injury lawyers. We get castigated as bad people, swindlers, and ambulance chasers. I can take the criticism because I didn't become a lawyer to be popular; I'm a lawyer because I want to help people.
Let's not forget about the victims when discussing this issue. Medical malpractice lawsuits involve real lives and a majority of these people have been adversely affected by the misconduct or negligence of a healthcare provider. Nearly 100,000 people die every year due to preventable medical errors. Justice needs to be served.
Are there areas of medical malpractice law that need reform? Of course, but let's not go overboard. Some of the suggested reforms are just plain ridiculous. For example, there was discussion about mandating alternative dispute resolution in medical malpractice cases in lieu of a jury trial. Not only would this be completely ineffective (since 96 percent of cases are settled prior to trial) but also violates our right to a trial by jury which is explicitly stated in the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Here's a video illustrating the on-going debate over tort reform...
The overarching goal of tort reform is to reduce healthcare costs. However, current evidence indicates tort reform may not save money. Texas implemented tort reform and it was reported by Dr. Atul Gawande that Texas currently has some of the highest medical costs in the country, without any additional benefits to patients, according to the AJC.
Again, I agree certain reforms should be considered, but the fundamental rights of the American people should not be compromised and any reforms we implement need to actually work for patients.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Appleton & Duffan personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the NE North Carolina (NC) border and handles car,truck,railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. Our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.