The Receding Tide of Medical Malpractice Litigation Part 2: Effect of Damage Caps
as published in 10 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, pp. 939-669 (2013)
31 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2013 Last revised: 28 Jan 2015
Date Written: December 15, 2013
We study the effect of damage caps adopted in the 1990s and 2000s on medical malpractice claim rates and payouts. Prior studies found some evidence that caps reduce payout/claim, but mixed and weak evidence on whether caps reduce paid claim rates and payout per physician. However, most prior studies do not allow for the gradual phase-in of damage caps, which usually apply only to lawsuits filed after the reform’s effective date, or only to injuries after the effective date. Once we allow for phase-in, we find strong evidence that damage caps reduce both claim rates and payout per claim, with a large combined impact on payout per physician. The drop in claim rates is concentrated in claims with larger payouts – the ones that would be most affected by a damages cap. Stricter caps have larger effects. Some prior studies also find a large impact of tort reforms other than damage caps. Once we allow for phase-in, we find that these other reforms have no significant impact on either claim rates or payout per claim.
A companion article, The Receding Medical Malpractice Part 1: National Trends, is available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2109679.
Keywords: medical malpractice, damage caps
JEL Classification: I18, K23, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation