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An idea to tackle tort reform, defensive medicine in Georgia

"Our approach is basically fair compensation - quickly, and more of it..."

Richard L. Jackson

December 1, 2011, by Kyle Wingfield

It's been 20 months since the Georgia Supreme Court threw out a key plank of the state's 2005 tort reform: a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages for medical malpractice. During that time there's been some hopeful talk among supporters of the cap, but precious little action by legislators.

Here's a thought: Why not scrap the medical tort system entirely, saving several billion dollars in the process?

Before every trial lawyer within 200 miles heads for my office, let me explain.

The idea is to replace the current legal system for medical malpractice with an administrative law system that draws heavily on the current arrangement for workers compensation claims.

No more lawsuits, no more juries, no more jackpot justice. Instead, patients injured while undergoing medical treatment would file a no-fault claim. Independent experts then would determine whether there was negligence and, if so, award the patient compensation based on national norms for the type of injury suffered.

The potential results: More patients receiving payments, in a fraction of the time lawsuits take today. Doctors no longer facing the specter of ruinous lawsuits. Even trial lawyers would stand to make more money on the whole.

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