We are a country of victim blamers. Brock Turner’s father. Gamergate. The mental health crisis (or the gun industry, depending on whom you ask). Media pundits and bloggers and politicians and writers and artists and anyone else you ask will say that victim blaming is despicable – to which we reply, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” based on the frequency of its occurrence.
So every time we hear someone talk about “tort reform,” what we really hear is victim blaming. Tort reform has become the war cry of the ill-informed, who genuinely believe that capping the amount of damages a medical malpractice victim is eligible to receive will save taxpayers money.
It won’t. It can’t. The only thing tort reform does is make sure that insurance carriers stay rich and allow negligent doctors to continue to practice medicine with little to no accountability for their actions.
Debunking the myths behind malpractice payouts
The media has changed the country’s perception of what medical malpractice is, and what tort reform is. One of the more recent articles we’ve seen comes from the Huffington Post, wherein the author argues the Affordable Care Act doesn’t do enough towards tort reform. So we want to address the most common arguments we hear and debunk them once and for all.
MYTH: Tort reform will lower the cost of my healthcare.
FACT: No, it won’t. It hasn’t lowered the costs of care for people who live in states that have placed damage caps on injury compensation, and it won’t lower your costs, either.
MYTH: Tort reform will stop all the extra expenses associated with “defensive medicine.”
FACT: Defensive medicine is a scare tactic created by hospitals. Doctors are supposed to order tests if they cannot diagnose your illness. And all of those alleged extra tests they keep ordering? They account for about 2.9% of a hospital’s costs altogether. Placing caps on damages won’t stop doctors from ordering tests – but if it does, then we might see more lawsuits involving doctors’ failure to diagnose a problem.
MYTH: Now that more people are insured, more medical malpractice cases will happen.
FACT: Who says this is true? There’s no reasonable basis for this belief outside of the idea that it *seems* like it should be right. If more people seem injured because they now have health care, that’s on the doctors, not the patients.
MYTH: Tort reform will stop runaway juries.
FACT: Here’s the crux, right? The runaway juries who throw millions and millions of dollars at people. You’re right; with damage caps, juries can’t exceed a certain amount of money in terms of compensation – for non-economic damages, that is. These types of caps don’t actually cap economic losses at all. So if a man has a leg amputated by a negligent doctor, and it costs him, say, $3.5 million in hospital stays, lost income, prosthetics, therapy and medications, capping a compensatory award at $500,000 million won’t stop him from being granted the full $3.5 million in monetary losses he sustained.
And before you say, Well, that seems fair; half a million dollars is a lot of money, let us pose these questions to you: how much is your leg worth? How much is your ability to walk, run, dance at your child’s wedding or drive a car worth to you? What if it was your daughter, son, or spouse? What if that doctor cut through his or her heart, as opposed to the wrong leg – is the life of your loved one worth $500,000 then?
If these scenarios seem unnecessarily harsh, it’s because tort reform only hurts victims. Juries and judges decide the amount of money a person is due, not the person who was hurt. If an act of medical malpractice leaves a person paralyzed at 16, he or she will need a lot more money than $500,000 to live the rest of his or her life.
At the heart of the matter is this: when you make it easier for doctors and hospitals to get away with gross negligence by only paying an award that amounts to a slap on the wrist, then there is little to no motivation for those doctors and hospitals to do better. If a store can have a policy that says, “You break it, you buy it,” then at the very least we can demand the same from our healthcare providers.
Crandall & Pera Law is a premier medical malpractice law firm fighting for victims throughout Kentucky and Ohio. If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, our experienced attorneys want to hear your story. Please fill out our contact form or call us at any time: 877.651.7764 for Kentucky, or 877.686.8879 for Ohio.