Damages Caps in Medical Malpractice Cases

28 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2007  

Leonard J. Nelson III

Samford University - Cumberland School of Law

Michael A. Morrisey

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Meredith L. Kilgore

University of Alabama at Birmingham - School of Public Health

Abstract

This article reviews the empirical literature on the effects of damages caps and concludes that the better-designed studies show that damages caps reduce liability insurance premiums. The effects of damages caps on defensive medicine, physicians location decisions, and the cost of health care to consumers are less clear. The only study of whether consumers benefit from lower health insurance premiums as a result of damages caps found no impact. Some state courts have based decisions declaring damages caps legislation unconstitutional on the lack of evidence of their effectiveness, thereby ignoring the findings of conflicting research studies or discounting their relevance. Although courts should be cautious in rejecting empirical evidence that caps are effective, legislators should consider whether they benefit consumers enough to justify limiting tort recoveries for those most seriously injured by malpractice.

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Leonard J. and Morrisey, Michael A. and Kilgore, Meredith L., Damages Caps in Medical Malpractice Cases. Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 85, No. 2, pp. 259-286, June 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1067168 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0009.2007.00486.x

Leonard J. Nelson III (Contact Author)

Samford University - Cumberland School of Law ( email )

800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
United States
205-726-2410 (Phone)
205-726-2587 (Fax)

Michael A. Morrisey

University of Alabama at Birmingham ( email )

Lister Hill Center for Health Policy
1665 University Blvd
Birmingham, AL 35294-0022
United States
1-205-975-3457 (Phone)
1-205-934-3347 (Fax)

Meredith Kilgore

University of Alabama at Birmingham - School of Public Health ( email )

Birmingham, AL
United States

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