Mythbusters



 

Myth: Damage caps (legislatively imposed limits on jury verdicts) reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits.

 

1Fact: It is counterintuitive to suggest that damage caps affect frivolous lawsuits. A frivolous lawsuit, by definition would be a lawsuit that lacks legal merit and is very unlikely to be won. Therefore, a frivolous lawsuit, should one exist, would not be the type of case that would yield a high jury verdict. Unfortunately, damage caps actually effect the most egregious cases in terms of injuries and damages. In other words, the people who are hurt the worst, and even those on account of people killed, are the cases that are affected by damage caps, leaving the victims without full recourse from their wrong-doers.

 

 

Myth: The Medical Malpractice “crisis” came as a result of too many medical malpractice lawsuits.

 

Male doctor giving thumbs downFact: There certainly is a medical malpractice crisis, but it has nothing to do with the number of lawsuits. In 2000, it was estimated that preventable medical errors resulted in up to 98,000 deaths in hospitals annually. Five years later, that figure rose to 195,000 avoidable deaths in hospitals. Medical associations started coining the term “crisis” as a result of their ever-increasing malpractice premiums. The premiums have not be rising because of the number of lawsuits, but rather because of the number of medical mistakes. Perhaps if the medical industry had focused on reducing the number of occurrences instead of limiting their liability for those preventable errors, their insurance premiums would have gone down by now.

 

 

Myth: Contingency fee lawyers are just out to make a fast buck.

 

3Fact: Contingency fee lawyers only are paid for their time and recoup expenses if they succeed in the case. Therefore, at the outset of a case, a contingency fee attorney agrees to represent their client without knowing when they will get paid for their time, as each case is different. Contingency fee arrangements also help screen baseless lawsuits out of the system. Logically speaking, a contingency fee lawyer would be foolish to accept a frivolous lawsuit, knowing that they are unlikely to ever be compensated for their time and effort in the case.

 

 

Myth: Insurance rates rise as a result of jury verdicts.

 

4Fact: Insurance company profits come from their investment income. Premiums are invested to make money for the insurance company. Rising insurance rates, such as in the mid-1970s, mid 1980’s and in the early part of the 2000’s can all be directly tied to periods in time when the investment markets and interest rates have declined.