Tort reform has been a hot button issue for years, and the White House and Congress have brought it back to center stage. Nevertheless, there has been little discussion by the major media outlets regarding the true consumer and patient dangers associated with tort reform. One of the dangers includes how these legislative measures that would significantly slash the rights of American citizens and limit their ability to hold health care providers accountable for acts of negligence and wrong doing.
One of the legislative measures being thrust forward by Congress is the Protecting Access to Care Act, which would place a $250,000 noneconomic damages cap in cases involving medical malpractice and nursing home abuse.
Proponents of the bill rely on misinformation and propaganda to spread fear that medical malpractice lawsuits harm doctors and hospitals’ abilities to treat patients. One of their leading arguments is that passing medical malpractice reform would help lower health care costs by limiting the amount of money insurers have to pay to victims their policyholders hurt. The reality though, according to a recent editorial published by The New England Journal of Medicine, is that tort reform will not lower health care costs.
Researchers behind the editorial have pointed out that in states where noneconomic damages caps already exist (roughly half of all states in the U.S., and previously in Florida), the limits have not demonstrably impacted liability costs. They also do nothing to show improvement in quality of care, which is what backers of the bill claim to be the primary reason for tort reform. The touted and expected financial benefits, experts say, would likely not happen.
Refuting the arguments behind tort reform is critical to helping American’s understand who is behind these efforts and why they are motivated to deeply cut into citizens’ rights. While tort reform is supported through misinformation that it will end “lawsuit abuse,” what it really does is severely limit the rights of victims and families to make their voices heard and recover what they rightfully deserve. After all, victims and families who suffer serious injuries or death at the hands of health care providers suffer profound emotional damages, often for the rest of their lives.
Damages caps like those proposed under the Protecting Access to Care Act also strip decision-making power away from juries, which are comprised of regular American citizens, and bestows that power upon politicians and business groups that have financial interests in limiting victims’ access to social justice. These laws are motivated by corporations, and mainly insurance companies, that place profits over people and flood our politics with money in order to pass laws that provide them with unfettered power to make even more profits. It is readily apparent when you begin to not only deconstruct the elements of the proposed legislation, but also think about who is behind these efforts and how those pushing the legislation benefit.
Our civil justice system is one of the only tools, and the most powerful one at that, for correcting injustices and abuses that may not be covered under our criminal laws. In addition to holding negligent and at-fault parties accountable for their failures and conduct, civil claims (including medical malpractice claims) enable victims to seek a recovery of their damages, which can include economic losses and compensation for their emotional injuries. Often, the emotional toll of a preventable injury or death far exceed the financial implications.
At Rash Mueller., our legal team has dedicated their professional careers to fighting on behalf of the injured and the wronged, and to leveling the playing field between average Americans and the corporate powers they face off against in civil court. We encourage everyone to learn more about tort reform efforts, and to get involved by spreading the word about how tort reform efforts and the proposed legislation will limit victims’ rights, discourage safe medical decision making and negatively impact patient safety in hospitals and doctors’ offices. You can also support group efforts to fight the passage of these laws or call your local congressional representatives to make your voices hear.
Regardless of the debate that continues to rage over medical malpractice and tort reform, our Weston medical malpractice attorneys are readily available to help those who have been harmed at the hands of negligence health care providers. To discuss a potential case during a free consultation, contact us today.