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Medical Malpractice: Is It Time For Tort Reform in Maryland?

January 1, 2004
By Michael I. Krauss

In this policy paper, the author takes aim at tort law. He asserts that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce charges that the tort system is wrecking our economy.

stethoscope and insurance docs

In this policy paper, the author takes aim at tort law.  He asserts that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce charges that the tort system is wrecking our economy. It is not disputed that, since 1930, growth in litigation costs has been four times the growth of the overall economy. The Chamber reports that federal class actions have tripled over the past 10 years, while similar filings in state courts ballooned by more than 1,000 percent.2 The estimated aggregate cost of the tort system in 2002 was $233 billion, or roughly $1,000 for every man, woman, and child in America, according to Tillinghast–Towers Perrin, a respected actuarial firm that works for many insurance companies. The share of this cost going to trial (i.e., plaintiffs’) lawyers—roughly $40 billion in 2002—is 150 percent of the annual revenues of Microsoft or Intel, and twice those of Coca-Cola.3 The cost of our tort system represented 2.23 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, or the equivalent of a 5 percent tax on wages.4 This cost of nearly $1,000 per American in 2002 compares to a cost of $12 per person in 1950.5 Even adjusting for inflation, the cost of tort has increased by more than 900 percent over 50 years. Over the next 10 years, Tillinghast predicts that the total “tort tax” will be $3.6 trillion.

 

IThe author concludes that,

in this study of the current state of Maryland med-mal law, it is important to begin by grasping how tort law (of which “med-mal” is a branch) fits in the legal order of a society of free and responsible individuals. Only through an initial understanding of the nature and function of tort does the discussion of whether there is “too much” or “too little” tort liability become intelligible.

 

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