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.

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All Results for Medical Liability

  1. Chamber Decries Senate Stalemate

    July 08, 2003 | Press Release

    WASHINGTON, D.C., July 9, 2003 -- The United States Chamber of Commerce criticized obstructionist members of the U.S. Senate for blocking a vote on medical liability reforms that would help ensure essential health care services and affordable coverage remain available. ... Read More

  2. Chamber Cheers WV Medical Liability and Venue Reforms

    March 13, 2003 | Press Release

    WASHINGTON, D.C., March 14 - The United States Chamber of Commerce today complimented the West Virginia State Legislature for passing and Governor Bob Wise for signing into law a medical liability reform bill that will help doctors and hospitals to continue meeting the health care needs of West Virginians. ... Read More

  3. Chamber Urges Congress to Limit Health Care Lawsuits

    March 12, 2003 | Press Release

    WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13 - The United States Chamber of Commerce today urged House lawmakers to reform the current medical liability system to help control skyrocketing costs and ensure that health care services and affordable coverage remain available.

    "The cost of this crisis is not measured in dollars," said Thomas Donohue, Chamber President and CEO. "As physicians exit their profession due to the scarcity and high cost of malpractice coverage, fewer patients will realize the benefits of life-saving and life-enhancing innovation. It's time for Congress to act." ... Read More

  4. Chamber Study Shows WV Legal System Harmful to Patients

    January 22, 2003 | Press Release

    WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 13, 2003 - The United States Chamber of Commerce today warned out of control medical malpractice liability is forcing doctors to leave West Virginia and harming the quality of patient care provided by those doctors who remain, according to a poll of West Virginia physicians. "This poll is a siren call to West Virginia that their state's litigation system is in critical condition," said Kate Sullivan, Chamber director of health care policy. "Lawmakers must make meaningful changes to heal the civil justice system before patients suffer." ... Read More

  5. Chamber Warns of

    February 05, 2001 | Press Release

    WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 6, 2001 - The United States Chamber of Commerce warned lawmakers on Capitol Hill that Americans need better access to health care, not legislation that could potentially force employers to pull the plug on coverage for their workers. "Americans need more access to doctors, not lawyers," said Bruce Josten, Chamber executive vice president. "Opening the door to more health care litigation only invites more out-of-control lawsuits and staggering prices at a time of near-record health care cost inflation."... Read More

  6. Chamber Advocates Expanding Health Care Coverage Instead of Expanding Liability

    February 09, 2000 | Press Release

    WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 10, 2000 - The United States Chamber of Commerce today warned Congress that American workers want and need expanded access to health care coverage and greater benefits, not expanded access to attorneys and courtrooms. "It's simple health care economics 101: lawsuits equal higher costs, which equals less coverage," said Bruce Josten, Chamber executive vice president. "Three out of four workers now receive health care coverage through their jobs, but new government mandates and expanded liability risks will make doing so increasingly cost prohibitive."... Read More