Forbes Magazine, usually a mouthpiece for Chamber of Commerce agitprop, recently ran an article online acknowledging the failure of the so-called “tort reform” movement (available here). That conservative canard, long a pet project of big business and the insurance industry and a prominent plank in the GOP platform, blames plaintiff’s lawyers and supposedly frivolous lawsuits for everything from spiraling health care costs to the exodus of doctors from the practice of medicine due to malpractice premiums. “Those myths,” the author writes, “have now been completely dispelled.”
The Forbes piece goes on to summarize the evidence behind this revelation. It points to a recent article in the renowned New England Journal of Medicine, which revealed that tort reform has done nothing to reduce “defensive medicine” practices contributing to skyrocketing costs in tort-reform states that have made it virtually impossible for injured patients to sue. Even though doctors and hospitals no longer had the specter of “frivolous lawsuits” hanging over their heads should they make a mistake, they continue ordering the same expensive and supposedly unnecessary tests and procedures they had before. Nor has tort reform done much to stem the growth of insurance premiums, which continue to increase as insurance company profits soar. Meanwhile, the author writes, patient safety has suffered tremendously, as corporate hospitals no longer have the incentive to implement sometimes costly but critically important safety measures for fear of a jury finding them negligent when someone in their care is injured or dies.
None of this is news to those in the civil justice system who regularly represent people hurt by profit-driven negligence. Big corporations and the insurance industry have spent billions buying politicians and promoting the lie that access to the jury trial – a right enshrined in our Constitution – is somehow too costly to preserve. Yet the evidence continues to mount that the “tort reform” movement was predicated on just that – a lie. So, when even Forbes Magazine realizes how destructive the myth of “tort reform” has been, one has to ask: who’s left to defend it?
It’s time we honor the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, who recognized the right of the jury trial as one no less important as our rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion. It’s time to get rid of tort reform.
The lawyers at Abraham Watkins have been working to protect the rights of injured victims for over sixty years. If you or someone you care about has been hurt by the carelessness or wrongdoing of others, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884.