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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 184 -- Tort Reform.

Tort Reform-

Americans ought to be able to sue in a court of law when they have been unjustly aggrieved.

But our society has become so thoroughly litigious over the past several generations that some of the lawsuits in recent years have been downright silly.

The frivolity of some multi-million dollar lawsuits costs Americans money, jobs, and economic growth. Astronomical insurance costs, due to the spectre of litigation, can drive good doctors out of practice. Frivolous lawsuits and mega-bucks class action lawsuits line the pockets of a few bold lawyers, give "harmed" consumers 10 bucks here or there, while hurting the overall entrepreneurial business atmosphere. Why should a pharmaceutical company invest billions of dollars developing a drug, then wait several years for FDA approval, and otherwise take the economic risk and initiative to improve lives, if, like clockwork, they will be immediately and overwhelmingly sued into smithereens, no matter how safe their product is?

Think about skyrocketing medical costs.

Now know that skyrocketing medical malpractice premiums are at least in part to blame. Those premiums cover patients who have legitimate claims against doctors and hospitals and such, but, unfortunately, only 22% of the cost of the insurance actually goes to paying out economic losses. Meanwhile, 54% goes toward legal fees. And 24% goes toward pain and suffering.

That's where tort reform comes in.

We make it harder to file frivolous lawsuits. We raise the bar. We cap extravagant rewards. Class action lawsuits have to meet basic standards.

Some assert that tort reform puts consumers in harm's way, that making it more difficult to sue and win might cause companies to behave in a wreckless manner.

But there is research that seems to indicate that tort reform might actually save lives:

Most individual tort reforms lead to statistically significant reductions in death rates, although some lead to increased rates. Specifically, we found that caps on noneconomic damages, caps on punitive damages, a higher evidence standard for punitive damages, product liability reform, and prejudgment interest reform led to fewer accidental deaths, while reforms of the collateral source rule led to increased deaths. (The collateral source rule says that victims can collect both from their own insurance company and from the injurer; reforms limit this ability to collect twice.)

Overall, we found that the risk-reducing effects of tort reform greatly outweigh the risk-increasing effects. Tort reforms in the states from 1981-2000 have led to an estimated 14,222 fewer accidental deaths.

Very interesting information.

And it makes sense. If we assume that tort reform will prevent good doctors and pharmaceutical companies from becoming discouraged and withdrawing from the marketplace, we may end up with more doctors, more miracle drugs, more groundbreaking surgical procedures, and a healthier and safer population as a result.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: On Surpluses & Big Government.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 October 2005 02:55 PM


Keep pushing this stuff and you'll soon get handed a supoena.


Posted by: DL at October 13, 2005 05:25 PM