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, 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.

Research

The Trial Lawyer Underground: Covertly Lobbying the Executive Branch

September 30, 2015 | 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.

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

September 10, 2015 | 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.

All Results for Medical Liability

In the News

September 25, 2013 | News and Blog

A week after six lawyers left a Plaintiffs Steering Committee, a lawyer has voluntarily dropped a bellweather transvaginal mesh case against CR Bard Inc. Read More »

An Rx for Mega Lawsuits?

Author: Lisa A. Rickard | September 20, 2013 | News and Blog

Generic consumer products first appeared on store shelves in the late 1970s as a cost-conscious alternative to brand name grocery products. Today, one can buy practically anything in generic form - from tires to whiskey. Read More »

Journal Blasts

September 09, 2013 | News and Blog

The Alabama Supreme Court is revisiting its "innovator liability" decision that holds companies liable for products they didn't manufacture. Read More »

Alabama Court Revisits 'Innovator Liability'

September 03, 2013 | News and Blog

The Alabama Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an appeal that could have huge implications for drug makers. Read More »

David W. Ogden on

Author: David W. Ogden and Elisebeth Colllins Cook of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP | October 26, 2012 | Video

At the 13th Annual Legal Reform Summit on October 24, 2012, we pulled aside David W. Ogden, Partner, Co-Chair, Government and Regulatory Litigation Practice Group, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, to discuss a new paper entitled, "The Exclusion Illusion: Fixing a Flawed Health Care Fraud Enforcement System." Watch »

The Exclusion Illusion: Fixing a Flawed Health Care Fraud Enforcement System

October 24, 2012 | Research

There are significant problems with current enforcement of anti-fraud statutes. A rational, effective, and fair health care fraud enforcement system should: 1) impose appropriate penalties on companies and individuals who defraud the government and generate appropriate recoveries for the public fisc; 2) afford those who believe they are wrongfully accused a meaningful opportunity to test the government's charges against them; 3) allow the courts to serve as the ultimate arbiter of the facts and the laws that govern the area, providing clear notice of what the law requires; and 4) ensure that companies that provide medicines and medical devices for patients in federal health care programs adopt and operate the most effective corporate integrity systems to minimize future violations. Read More »

101 Ways To Improve State Legal Systems

Author: Authors: Victor E. Schwartz & Cary Silverman, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. | September 13, 2012 | Research

"101 Ways to Improve State Legal Systems in 2013 & Beyond" provides policymakers with a compilation of some of the many avenues available to foster a sound legal system that promotes states' economies. The reforms are organized into five areas. The first section highlights five reforms that have gained momentum and should be of particular interest to state legislators. The report then considers fair and effective measures that would improve the litigation process, improve product liability law, promote rational liability rules, and rein in excessive damage awards. While this report presents proposals for legal reform options in a conceptual manner, it directs readers to recently enacted laws that show how legislators can move the proposals described in this guide from theory into practice. Read More »

The Liability Climate in the States: Costs, Reforms and the Potential Impact on Jobs with Special Remarks by Governor Robert F. McDonnell

October 26, 2011 | Video

This panel at the 12th Annual Legal Reform Summit on October 26, 2011 examined the legal climate in the states, reforms and the impact on employment and business activity. It featured special remarks by Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell. Watch »

Striking Down Medical Liability Reforms Another Blow to Illinois' Poor Lawsuit Climate

December 29, 2010 | Press Release

Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), made the following statement on the February 4th ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court which struck down the state's medical malpractice law Read More »

Lawsuits Cost Small Businesses $105 Billion, Study Shows

July 08, 2010 | Press Release

A new study released July 8th by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) shows that small businesses shoulder a tremendous burden of the nation's tort liability costs, having paid $105.4 billion in 2008. Noting that small businesses have created 64% of all net new jobs in the United States over the past 15 years, ILR President Lisa Rickard said, "As America struggles out of this current economic downturn, this study shows that our lawsuit system continues to be a drag on job-creating small businesses." Read More »

  • bulletClick to Narrow Your Results