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
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All Results for Medical Liability

  1. 101 Ways to Improve State Legal Systems: A User's Guide to Promoting Fair and Effective Civil Justice

    September 10, 2015 | Research

    101 Ways to Improve State Legal Systems offers some of the many options available to foster a sound legal system. It considers fair and effective measures to improve the litigation process, promote rational liability rules, and rein in excessive awards.... Read More

  2. The ILR Research Review - Spring 2015

    May 18, 2015 | Research

    This edition of the ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from the latest of ILR's research on enforcement slush funds, Canadian class actions, emerging litigation trends and theories from the plaintiffs' bar, and recent state tort law rulings.... Read More

  3. Laboratories of Tort Law: A Three-Year Review of Key State Supreme Court Decisions

    December 04, 2014 | Research

    This report highlights significant tort law decisions over the past three years that are examples of particularly sound or unsound rulings. Each analysis examines the tort law principles involved, whether the court followed or deviated from these principles, and the court's reasoning in reaching its decision.... Read More

  4. In The News Today - November 6, 2014

    November 06, 2014 | News and Blog

    An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell highlights "excessive regulations and frivolous lawsuits that are driving up costs for families and preventing the economy from growing" as one of the top priorities for reform under the newly elected Republican majority in the House and Senate.... Read More

  5. Texas Legal Reforms to Play a Part in 'Ebola Lawsuits'?

    October 27, 2014 | News and Blog

    The Associated Press today writes about expected litigation from the family of Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who was initially misdiagnosed but then passed away from Ebola after returning from West Africa.... Read More

  6. Judge Refuses to Toss $9 Billion Verdict in Pharmaceutical Bellwether Case

    August 29, 2014 | News and Blog

    In a case that sets the tone for future litigation regarding drugmaker liability, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Lafayette, Louisiana rejected a bid by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. to toss a $9 billion judgment against over claims that the companies did not properly disclose the cancer risks of their Actos medicine.... Read More

  7. The Anti-Vaccine Movement And A Trial Lawyer-Funded Climate Of Fear

    April 28, 2014 | News and Blog

    The most savvy plaintiffs' lawyers understand that in order to create new fields of litigation, up-front investments are often required.... Read More

  8. WATCH: Washington Legal Foundation Briefing on Lawsuit-Generating FDA Generics Labeling Proposal

    April 11, 2014 | News and Blog

    The Washington Legal Foundation, in cooperation with the Generic Pharmaceutical Association and the American Enterprise Institute, held a media briefing to discuss the consequences of the FDA's proposed generic labeling requirement. ... Read More

  9. In the News Today - March 27, 2014

    March 27, 2014 | News and Blog

    A judge is scheduled to hear arguments from a number of companies - including Ford and Aetna - to unseal evidence in a case that found lawyers were withholding and manipulating evidence in order to boost asbestos payouts.... Read More

  10. In the News Today - March 18, 2014

    March 18, 2014 | News and Blog

    BP is petitioning the full 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to review a panel's decision that proof of causation isn't required under the terms of the gulf oil spill settlement.... Read More