Our our previous blog post, we reviewed two of the myths spread by advocates of tort reform who are seeking to limit access to the civil justice system. Read on for some more of the lies told be big corporations and the groups that work for them seeking to limit personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits.
Lie #3: Punitive damage awards are bad for business and destroy corporations.
The truth: It turns out that there are very few punitive damage awards – in only five percent of medical malpractice and personal injury trials where plaintiffs won. When punitive damages are awarded, they are usually only twice the compensatory damages, not many times the actual damages, as the tort reformers would have you believe. The median punitive damage award only $55,000, according to the Justice Department. This is hardly an amount that would destroy a major corporation.
Lie #4: Doctors are being driven out of business by medical malpractice lawsuits.
The truth: The number of malpractice payments has dropped during the last decade. The number of medical malpractice cases has dropped 35 percent since 2001 and now represents only two percent of all civil cases and less than eight percent of all tort cases.
Lie #5: Medical malpractice cases are almost always frivolous.
The truth: Twenty-two percent of medical malpractice cases arise because a patient died. The Harvard School of Public Health studied the issue and found that most negligence claims had merit and that cases without merit seldom received any money. It concluded that “portraits of a malpractice system that is stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown.”