Medical malpractice tort reform has been enacted in some states to protect medical professionals from waves of frivolous lawsuits. Tort reform addresses changes or limitations on the civil justice system, specifically capping non-economic damages to prevent bankruptcy. In this article, learn about this legislation and how legal experts can help you navigate the system in your favor.
Torts are lawsuits that arise when someone has been wrongfully injured. Torts are covered by civil law, so they’re usually tried in civil courts. There are two types of torts: intentional and unintentional, and a variety in between.
As the name suggests, intentional torts occur when the person committing the act knows it would lead to injury and does so anyway. These cases can be tricky to prove because it requires showing that the individual intended to cause harm.
Examples of intentional torts include battery, assault, false imprisonment, and fraud.
These torts happen when an individual didn’t mean to commit a wrongful act but still did so. Unlike intentional torts, proving negligence only requires demonstrating that a reasonable person would have known their actions could lead to injury.
Unintentional torts include car accidents (negligence), slips and falls (premises liability), and medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice tort reform involves placing more stringent rules on patient lawsuits against doctors for medical malpractice. Tort reform also reduces the amount of recovery they could potentially receive.
Various states are passing this legislation in response to the rising number and severity of frivolous lawsuits against doctors. In addition, some argue that malpractice tort reform can lead to lower insurance premiums.
Changes that tort reforms have brought include:
Legislators cited the high expenses associated with litigation and compensation payouts, raising the cost of insurance premiums. Experts suggested that the expenses of medical malpractice lawsuits can decrease health care quality but increase their prices.
However, some people believe that medical malpractice reform has been ineffective in achieving its goals. Critics argue that it only shifted the costs from one group (insurance companies and health care providers) to another (injured patients who need medical care). Overall, they do not believe that medical malpractice tort reform has saved society money.
Others point out that frivolous lawsuits are still a problem. However, they argue that medical malpractice reform helped reduce the number of these cases, making it easier for those with legitimate claims to have their day in court.
Meanwhile, medical malpractice tort reform is also meant to reduce the amount of defensive medicine that doctors perform. Doctors engage in this practice out of fear of being sued. It involves ordering unnecessary tests or procedures, potentially driving up the cost of health care.
Here are some examples of medical malpractice tort reform laws by state:
Medical malpractice tort reform affects medical professionals in states that adopted such changes in legislation. These laws aim to filter out unreasonable medical malpractice cases and focus on the more substantial ones. If you believe you have a claim, consider getting an experienced attorney to assess your case and determine your medical malpractice defense options.