An Empirical Study of the Impact of Tort Reforms on Medical Malpractice Settlement Payments

  • Avraham R
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This paper evaluates the impact of six different types of tort reforms on the frequency, size, and number of total annual settlements in medical malpractice cases between 1991 and 1998. Medical malpractice data come from the National Practitioner Data Bank, which contains more than 100,000 malpractice settlement payments in the study time frame. Of the six tort reforms examined, two reforms (caps on pain and suffering damages and limitations on joint and several liability) reduced the number of annual payments, and two reforms (caps on pain and suffering damages and the periodic-payment reform) reduced average awards. Caps on non- economic damages had an effect on total annual payments, although the statistical signifi- cance of that effect was weak. The joint effect of enacting all six reforms was statistically significant for reducing the number of cases but not the state-level average award or total payments.

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  • Ronen Avraham

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