Effects of Tort Reform in Texas
A common misconception by the supporters of the 2003 Medical Malpractice Tort Reform Act was that medical malpractice litigation was responsible for increasing healthcare costs and limited access to care. In retrospect, tort reform did have a number of demonstrable effects. The effect on health care administrators, patients and lawyers, and the current and future economic impact greatly outweigh the benefits of tort reform.
Health Care Administrators
The 2003 statue caused health care administrators (physicians, hospitals and malpractice insurers) millions of dollars richer by devaluing the claims of injured patients. The detailed chart below shows how Physicians’ liability insurance premiums have continued to drop since the passage of tort reform. The reduction in liability insurance premiums provides a complete redistribution of wealth from malpractice victims to the proponents of tort reform.
Patients and Attorneys
The Medical Malpractice Tort Reform Act of 2003 has caused most attorneys, which focused on this area of law, to be unable to take on cases that are not financially viable. Although medical malpractice caps vary by state, with caps in place, claimants in many states can recover only $250,000 in a law suit. After the costs of the case are deducted from this patient settlement award, many injured parties are left with close to nothing to fully compensate their injuries and/or pay their rising medical debt. As a result, many lawyers will refuse to take medical malpractice cases knowing that the injured party will have gone through the hardships of a trial only to receive little or nothing for their effort.
Unfortunately, for the patients involved in medical malpractice cases, caps to medical damages often mean that injured patients are denied their day in court.
It has also been suggested that with the decrease in the amount of medical malpractices lawsuits actually cause some physicians to become more complacent