October 11, 2012, by Kyle Wingfield
Limiting damages in medical malpractice cases - what most people
think of as "tort reform" - could become a hot topic again if
Georgia legislators finally try to reimpose the caps thrown out by
the state Supreme Court in 2010. Reformers, of course, say the
threat of multimillion-dollar lawsuits prompts doctors to practice
defensive medicine, needlessly costing our health-care system
Critics say the caps effectively reduce access to the justice
system by making malpractice cases less attractive to plaintiffs'
attorneys. But judicial access could hardly be lower than it is
under the current system.
That's the upshot of a new study by an Emory University law professor,
who suggests another feature of today's jackpot justice - the high
cost of pursuing a malpractice case - already prevents most people
injured through medical negligence from having their day in
"The vast majority of attorneys reject the majority of cases they
screen," says Joanna Shepherd-Bailey, author of the new study,
"Justice in Crisis: Victim Access to the American Medical Liability
In fact, Shepherd-Bailey's survey of plaintiffs' attorneys across
the nation found they tend to reject more than 90 percent of the
potential cases brought to them.
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