Douglas V. Stoehr
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Tort Reform Hurts Doctors and Patients

How much do you know about the current state of medical malpractice insurance and insurance reform?  Well, recent reports show that medical malpractice premiums and claims per doctor are at their lowest rates in 40 years.  However, many patients still  feel that they have not received proper compensation for medical errors made during their care. This is related in large part to tort reform. 

Many researchers feel that the potential repeal of Affordable Care Act, which has resulted in many possible replacement bills, also includes corresponding tort reform proposals that may hurt injured patients.  Many of these reform proposals reduce the authority of local juries and could be construed as stripping injured patients of legal rights.  Even though claims and premiums are the lowest in four decades, the insurance industry continues to hurt both doctors and patients.  Tort reform proposals include such measures as putting caps on monetary compensation for injured patients, which hurt the victim.  Additionally, these same reform proposals don’t lower malpractice premiums for doctors.  So, both parties are hurt and neither receive any kind of benefit to make the reform beneficial for them. Furthermore, these same injured patients will be forced to rely on government disability and public health programs for help, which should have been  addressed through insurance claims to begin with.  

Some parties argue for tort reform, which, as stated above, would put a cap on awards for injury or negligence.  They argue that, if there was a cap on awards, there would be fewer legal claims, and felt that arbitration decreases the projected expense and awards of cases. These facts are not completely accurate.  Arbitration does NOT decrease the expense and value of claims in all cases; in fact, they may increase the awards from claims in some cases.  Additionally, medical malpractice cases are not as “easy to prove” as these proponents of tort reform would make you believe.  These cases can be difficult to prove, as well as time-consuming. Therefore, the implications that most medical negligence cases are easy to prove and will most likely result in large awards are inaccurate.

Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer practicing in the western and central Pennsylvania region.  For more information on his firm or to discuss your potential claim, please call his Altoona, PA office at 814-515-9074.