A recent article from the Justice.org website lists the 10 largest medical malpractice insurance companies that made extremely high profits in 2012. If we are to believe the politicians who claim that medical malpractice lawsuits are the reason medical costs are so high, that tort reform is the “only” thing that can save the medical industry, and that doctors are at some sort of financial disadvantage, how can these companies be so profitable? The answer lies in the truth. Medical costs are not escalating because of the damage payouts to malpractice victims. They’re escalating because medical malpractice insurance companies are charging the doctors too much money and then blaming trial lawyers for the increase in premiums. Cases such as 60 Minutes’ “Jackpot Justice” case in Jefferson County, MS where jurors were allegedly in collusion with five claimants, awarding them $150 million for damages from drug phen-phen, are extremely rare. Yet, politicians and pro-insurance lobbyists hold this one case up as the example for the so-called “need for tort reform.” If anything, increased profits for medical malpractice insurers is the barometer. They show tha t tort reform and recovery caps have only served to enrich the insurers while denying fair compensation to the victims.
There is no crisis in medical costs escalating due to damage payouts to malpractice victims. There is a crisis of victims who haven’t been compensated fairly by the system, because insurance companies have created a false litigation crisis. The pseudo crisis in the 1970s turned out to be just that. Statistics have shown it to be untrue, yet this resulted in the 1975 Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act. Louisiana is still plagued by this questionable law today. Victims are routinely under-compensated, never receiving enough money to cover the lifelong burden placed on them by negligent doctors. We are not talking about doctors who made a mistake or were not perfect. We are talking about doctors who consciously violate patient safety rules and hurt people who trusted them to be careful. Consider a recent case we worked on. We won a $3.5 million jury verdict at the trial court. The cap dropped it down to $500,000 for all the clients terrible life changing injuries, all thanks to a knee jerk reaction to the pseudo lawsuit crisis back in 1975.. Now this case is hanging by a thread at the Court of Appeals because the medical records said one doctor did the surgery, yet the deposition uncovered the surgeon’s assistant actually performed the surgery. The doctor is using an error in his own medical records to escape responsibility for his actions. The client, who was harmed by the surgeon in question, must bear their increased financial burden for the rest of their life, while the doctor’s only punishment is an increase in medical malpractice insurance. And rather than paying the victim the fair compensation to cover the costs of living with this error, the insurance company has managed to hang onto their profits, while earning more from the doctor who can pass those increased costs onto future patients. If you have further questions about this blog post or other legal matters, we welcome the opportunity to answer them for you. Please feel free to contact us toll-free at (866) 281-4774