Rivals roll out statistics in malpractice cap battle

Tampa Tribune
Sunday, November 24, 2002

The upcoming legislative battle over medical malpractice reform primarily centers on this question:

Will capping the dollar amount juries can award victims of medical negligence stop soaring costs physicians pay for malpractice insurance?

For every special interest group that says "yes," just as many say "not so fast."

Both sides are rolling out studies, surveys and reams of statistics that bolster their own positions and contradict the others.

And whether the Legislature and Gov. Jeb Bush ultimately cap damages in the legislative session that opens March 4 will depend on whose statistics lawmakers believe.

Insurance companies, allied with physicians and hospitals, argue that escalating, multi-million-dollar awards are driving the premium increases in Florida that have climbed as much as 400 percent over the last two years. Capping "noneconomic" damages for pain and suffering at $250,000 would stop the upward spiral, according to the experts hired to represent the coalition.

. . .

The Center for Justice and Democracy, a Ralph Nader consumer group that concentrates on fighting tort reform, says injured victims win jury awards in only 23 percent of their cases. That's a decrease from 1992 when 30.5 percent of claimants won awards, according to the center.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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