Friday, July 18, 2003

NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, recently released data regarding car accident deaths in 2002. The information shows a very serious safety problem that needs attention. Deaths on our highways have reached the highest level in a dozen years and tragically, rollover car accidents and crashes caused 82% of this increase. Car manufactures must protect car drivers and passengers from death and serious injuries in rollover accidents by making cars crashworthy.

A recent press release from Public Citizen discusses this, NHTSA’s 2002 Highway Fatality Statistics Confirm Pressing Need for Safety Improvements Contained in Senate Legislation.



Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Wisconsin personal injury lawyers and other personal injury attorneys were recently encouraged by the following news Yahoo News: Senate Kills Malpractice Limit Proposal.

Two Republicans along with the Democrats were instrumental in this - encouraging news for an Independent, like me. The two courageous and wise Republican Senators were Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Senator Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina.

For those who need proof that these Senators did the right thing, look no further than the American Academy of Family Physicians recent publication Seven Reasons Family Doctors Get Sued and How to Reduce Your Risk. The physicians' publication has table entitled "MYTHS ABOUT MALPRACTICE," which states in part:

"This is a new problem.
The first malpractice case recorded in the United States was Cross v Guthery, a 1794 Connecticut case in which a man sued his doctor over his wife's death following surgery. Since only appeals court decisions are usually recorded, the first malpractice case may well have occurred before the founding of the country. Historical accounts from the Civil War era document instances of surgeons refusing to do certain procedures because of concerns about being sued."

"It's about money.
Many doctors believe that patients sue primarily because of money, but for the vast majority of patients, money is not the primary motivation. Instead, patients often sue because they want to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future, want an honest and clear explanation as to how and why the injury occurred and want the staff or organization to be accountable for their actions."

"The number of lawyers is the root of the problem.
The number of lawyers in an area does not predict the number of medical malpractice lawsuits. It is the number of doctors that predicts the number of suits."

"Lawyers decide the standard of care.
In every jurisdiction, a lawyer is able to file a medical malpractice suit only with a statement from an expert that negligence occurred. That expert has to be a physician."

"Frivolous suits are the root of the problem.
A General Accounting Office report showed that less than 10 percent of the time does the plaintiff have an injury that would be regarded as "insignificant."3 In the majority of cases, plaintiffs have serious problems that no one would want for themselves or their loved ones. Whether the bad outcome was the result of doctors' negligence may be debatable, but medical malpractice suits for frivolous reasons are uncommon."

"There is nothing one doctor can do.
Perhaps the most powerful predictor of the likelihood of being sued is how well the doctor relates to patients. The more honest and empathetic a doctor is, the lower the likelihood of suit."

"Judges and juries favor plaintiffs.
In fact, judges and juries generally favor doctors. In 2000, defendants won 62 percent of all medical malpractice cases brought before a jury."

"All tort reform is good.
Some kinds of tort reform have proven effective, such as California's 1975 Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA); others have not and, in fact, may make things worse."