The Receding Tide of Medical Malpractice Litigation Part 1: National Trends
Northwestern University - School of Law
Bernard S. Black
Northwestern University - School of Law; Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
David A. Hyman
University of Illinois College of Law
December 15, 2013
as published in 10 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, pp. 612-638 (2013)
Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 12-18
Illinois Program in Law, Behavior and Social Science Paper No. LBSS12-13
7th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper
Illinois Public Law Research Paper No. 13-55
The U.S. has experienced three medical malpractice (“med mal”) crises in the past forty years. In response, thirty-one states now have caps on non-economic or total damages. Researchers have studied the impact of these caps, relative to control states without caps, but have not studied trends in no-cap states or overall national trends. We find that the per-physician rate of paid med mal claims has been dropping for 20 years and in 2012 is less than half the 1992 level. Lawsuit rates, in the states with available data, are also declining, at similar rates. “Small” paid claims (payout < $50,000 in 2011 dollars) have been dropping for the full period; “large” paid claims (payout > $50,000) have been dropping since 2001. Payout per large paid claim was roughly flat. Payout per physician have been dropping since 2003, and by 2012 were 48% below their 1992 level. The “third wave” of damage cap adoptions over 2003-2006 contributed to this trend, but there are also large declines in no-cap states.
A companion article, The Receding Medical Malpractice Part 2: Effect of Damage Caps, is available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2285230.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: medical malpractice, tort reform, damage caps
JEL Classification: I18, K23, K32Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: July 16, 2012 ; Last revised: January 28, 2015
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