Medical Liability

At a time of mounting concerns about health care costs, America’s broken medical liability system stands as a major culprit - raising costs and hampering quality of care for millions. While many states have adopted successful reforms, sky-high medical liability costs remain a significant problem nationally. Read More...

The costs of medical liability are exacerbated by the filing of meritless lawsuits. Further, healthcare costs continue to rise because of the practice of “defensive medicine.” In response to increasing medical liability risks, doctors are ordering unnecessary tests and procedures as a way to protect themselves from liability.

And it is not just the cost of healthcare that is affected by medical liability costs – healthcare quality is also impacted. The availability of some higher-risk medical specialties, such as ob-gyn physicians, is becoming scarce as a result of high insurance premiums resulting from lawsuits.

Congress has been working to pass meaningful medical liability reform in recent years. In addition, many states have successfully lowered their medical costs and increased the availability of care by passing medical liability reforms.

California was a pioneer when in 1975 it passed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which placed a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits and limits on attorney contingency fees. Since its passage, claims in California are settled in one-third less time than in states without caps on non-economic damages. The trial bar unsuccessfully attempted to pass a ballot initiative to remove the caps in 2014.

Many states have passed reforms modeled after MICRA with excellent results. For example, when Texas was facing an extreme shortage of physicians, medical facilities, and soaring medical liability costs, it enacted sweeping medical liability reforms that placed a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages against doctors and healthcare providers and an overall cap of $500,000 against healthcare facilities. Since Texas passed their reforms, lawsuits against hospitals have decreased by more than two-thirds, and the state added more than 80 practicing obstetricians in one year.

Over 30 states currently have some type of law placing limits on damages in medical malpractice cases:

Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Suggested Resources

Research
  • Bad for Your Health: <br>Lawsuit Advertising Implications and Solutions

    Bad for Your Health:
    Lawsuit Advertising Implications and Solutions

    October 24, 2017

    This paper documents the proliferation of alarmist, misleading ads soliciting the public to file lawsuits against prescription drug and medical device companies. The report explores how these ads exaggerate product risks, minimize benefits Read More

  • ILR Research Review - Fall 2017

    ILR Research Review - Fall 2017

    November 30, 2017

    This special double-issue of the ILR Research Review features a wealth of insight and analysis on the world's rapidly changing litigation environment. The research contained in this issue targets exploitative litigation at home and abroad, examining numerous developments ranging from hyper-aggressive trial lawyer advertising in the U.S. to the imminent expansion of class actions in Europe. Read More

All Results for Medical Liability

  1. Torts of the Future II: Addressing the Liability and Regulatory Implications of Emerging Technologies

    April 18, 2018 | Research

    The second edition of ILR's Torts of the Future research examines evolutions in regulatory and liability trends for emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, wearable devices, and 3D printing. The research also presents a number of updated guiding principles to inform courts, legislators, and policymakers as they seek to address privacy and safety concerns without derailing or delaying innovation.... Read More

  2. Kentucky Chalks Up Two Legal Reform Wins in March

    March 20, 2018 | Blogs

    The University of Kentucky Wildcats are making a strong showing in March Madness, and so is the state legislature. Over the past few weeks, Kentucky has passed two major milestones in legal reform: ensuring transparency in private attorney contracting (TIPAC), and protecting physician peer-review.... Read More

  3. Bad for Your Health:
    Lawsuit Advertising Implications and Solutions

    October 24, 2017 | Research

    This paper documents the proliferation of alarmist, misleading ads soliciting the public to file lawsuits against prescription drug and medical device companies. The report explores how these ads exaggerate product risks, minimize benefits... Read More

  4. U.S. House Passes Medical Liability Reform Bill

    June 28, 2017 | News and Blog

    Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 1215) by a vote of 218-210. This marks a substantial step toward fixing America's broken medical liability system. ... Read More

  5. In the News Today - June 16, 2017

    June 16, 2017 | News and Blog

    Missouri 'Marches Toward Daubert': On August 28, a newly-enacted Missouri law will go into effect which will allow the state to "join the federal courts and 39 other states in applying the Daubert standard for the admissibility of expert testimony."... Read More

  6. In the News Today - May 18, 2017

    May 18, 2017 | News and Blog

    House Bill 1774, a piece of legislation aimed at ending abusive and frivolous hailstorm litigation, is now on its way to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk. The Institute for Legal Reform issued a statement "applauding the Texas legislature for prioritizing legal reform" and urged Gov. Abbott to sign the legislation swiftly.... Read More

  7. In the News Today - April 27, 2016

    April 27, 2016 | News and Blog

    ILR-Funded Ethics & Compliance Report Highlighted: CGMA Magazine, a journal for certified public accountants, writes on the ILR-funded report from the Ethics and Compliance Initiative offering "five principles of high-quality ethics and compliance programs."... Read More

  8. In the News Today - April 6, 2016

    April 06, 2016 | News and Blog

    A federal appeals court drastically slashed a $25.5 million punitive damage award for a woman who claimed a faulty furnace led to her carbon monoxide poisoning.... Read More

  9. Report: Plaintiffs' Lawyers Score Big Perks for Themselves Lobbying Federal Agencies

    September 30, 2015 | Press Release

    ... Read More

  10. The Trial Lawyer Underground: Covertly Lobbying the Executive Branch

    September 30, 2015 | Research

    This report highlights examples of the quiet and effective influence the American Association for Justice, the organization that lobbies on behalf of the plaintiffs' bar, exerts within the Executive Branch.... Read More