What is “tort reform?”

Tort reform generally seeks to put a cap, or restriction, on awards to plaintiffs and / or their attorneys. Defendants have long argued that large jury awards to plaintiffs (from which their attorneys generally receive a portion) drive up the costs of insurance for the industries or classes liable for those awards, such as doctors and hospitals, costs which are either passed on the public as higher fees or result in an exodus from a particular profession. Awards in medical malpractice cases are most commonly targeted for tort reform. Plaintiffs’ attorneys argue that tort reform ignores the real injuries suffered and the need for compensation, and point out that plaintiffs’ attorneys often work for years without payment, and only then receiving payment if the plaintiff is successful. To date, in AZ the state constitution prohibits the imposition of any type of cap on damage awards in liability cases.

A recent court decision approving standards for experts in liability cases may be incremental tort reform.

In March, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a 2005 law establishing minimum qualifications for expert witnesses who are hired to testify in medical liability cases. Traditionally, courts, not lawmakers, have ruled on the qualifications of expert witnesses, excluding or limiting their testimony if they are determined to be unqualified as experts.

The court held that the qualifications of experts, generally believed to be a procedural matter and thus left to the courts, was in fact a “serious substantive problem,” described by the court as the effect on public health of increased medical malpractice insurance rates and the reluctance of qualified physicians to practice in Arizona.

A spokesman for the Arizona Medical Association called the decision “very important for us,” because Arizona’s constitution forbids any type of cap on damages in liability cases. The medical society claims that the expert witness rules have resulted in a 20% drop in case filings, which it claims were cases with no merit that presumably would have been filed before the rules came into effect. The society also claims that an 11% decline in liability insurance premiums was a result of the expert witness rules.

Article courtesy of accident attorney in Phoenix Jess A. Lorona, Attorney at Law, 866-606-0951, www.arizonatrialattorneys.com.

Jess Lorona, accident lawyer in Phoenix wants to increase everyones knowledge regarding tort law or tort reform. Tort laws corelate to restrictions or caps on an award and usually affect doctors and hospitals, mostly. But when it comes to Phoenix accident injuries tort laws are also necessary when your insurance provid

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Licensed since 1983

Member at firm Jess A. Lorona, Attorney at Law

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