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.
Author(s): Leonard J. Nelson; Michael A. Morrisey; Meredith L. Kilgore
Keywords: medical malpractice; tort reform; malpractice premiums; legislative history
Volume 85, Issue 2
Published in 2007