LEMON LAWSUITS II
John Lemon continues his den Bestian treatise on tort reform sparked by my posts here and here. He has some nifty formulas and everything, including what looks like a misspelling of “if” that really isn’t.
John accepts the idea of damage caps as a first step and also proposes a “loser pays” system to discourage borderline cases. I’ve advocated the former and am unsure about the latter. An individual suing, by extension, a huge insurance company is at a huge disadvantage in a loser pays system. It may discourage more than “frivolous” cases, since the incentive for the defendant would be to run up costs.
His main idea is to change the entire Western culture so that people accept responsibility for their own risks and take very stoic attitudes toward the vicissitudes of misfortune. I don’t disagree with the sentiment but think this is unlikely to happen.
He denies my claim that eliminating medical lawsuits entirely is impractical, noting only that it would require politicians with sufficient spine to do something wildly unpopular and notes that several countries with socialized medicine already have such caps. To which I respond: Heh.
By, “Heh,” of course, I mean good luck finding a critical mass of politicians willing to run against popular sentiment, let alone getting them elected. Not to mention that you’d have to get at least 60 of them elected into the Senate to break the inevitable filibuster. And, of course, in systems of socialized medicine, it’s almost a given that the state will cap the right to sue doctors since it’s actually suing the state. The US does this, for example, in the case of military members treated by military doctors.
John also dismisses my argument that shifting the burden to insurance companies for mistakes would simply result in more lawsuits against insurance companies, noting that medical suits are already against insurance companies by default since that’s who pays. Well, yes. But if an external party is going to have to pay money but doesn’t want to, then there’s a lawsuit. This doesn’t solve either the tort problem or the personal responsibility problem.