I want to commend Norman D. Tucker, a Michigan medical malpractice attorney, for his insightful blog entry on the fallacy of “tort reform,” including caps on damages in medical malpractice cases. Michigan first implemented caps on damages in 1994. The insurance industry lobby said it was necessary to keep healthcare affordable, to prevent doctors from leaving the state, along with many other sound bites. The practical reality is that healthcare expenses continued to climb, doctors were not leaving the state, the number of medical malpractice filings decreased by almost 80%, medical malpractice payouts decreased substantially, yet defense costs went up because more cases went to trial. The insurance companies are the ones that profited the most off the backs of patients injured by medical malpractice. Now, there are many patients in Michigan (and other states with caps), who have meritorious claims who can not find a lawyer to take their case because it is not feasible economically.
I am afraid we are seeing the exact same thing here in North Carolina since the implementation of caps on damages in 2011. These sound bites employed by insurance companies (doctors are leaving the state, etc.), which are patently false, may sound good to the average citizen until they or a loved one are injured by the negligence of a medical care provider. Then they discover they have no recourse. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in North Carolina. This lawyer believes the caps on damages violates the North Carolina Constitution. However, the issue has not made its way up to the appellate courts and may not do so for several more years.