Justinian C. Lane, Esq.
Let Justice Be Done, Though the Heavens May Fall

Justinian Lane's Blog

Justinian's Blog

Tort Reform is a Euphemism For Corporate Welfare

Walter Olson, in an attack against a trial lawyer, inadvertantly disclosed something about tort "reform" that many prefer to keep secret: That tort "reform" shifts costs from corporations and their insurers to the taxpayers.  The quote below sums it up:

"We didn't say we were suing nobody," Lawrence said. "All we wanted was the insurance company to pay for my son's medical bills. That's all we wanted.

"We don't want no $10 million. We're living fine. Whatever the insurance company doesn't pay, Medicaid pays. We don't need a lawsuit. Now, we've got all these people against us and it's not fair because it's not true."  (Emphasis added.)

Source: Overlawyered: Mom: I never authorized lawyer to sue school over football injury

And who pays for Medicaid?  You do, I do, and so does every other taxpayer.  There is no such thing as a free lunch; regardless of whatever laws are passed in the name of reform, someone will have to pay for the medical bills of injured people.  The question is who should pay for those bills.

Supporters of the civil justice system believe that those who caused the injuries should pay, or their insurers should.  Corporate lobbyists would prefer a system where taxpayers pay the bills for the injuries caused by their employers.  And in the spirit of Orwell, they push for such a system by claiming there's a "tort tax" that affects consumers.

When Medicaid, Medicare, or another governmental program pays for an injured person's medical bills, it costs the taxpayers.  When private health insurers pay the bills, it costs the members of that health plan in the form of higher premiums.  And if no one can afford to pay the bills, then medical providers raise the prices everyone else pays; that's why it's $10 bucks for an aspirin at a hospital.

Each successive "reform" that makes it more difficult to bring a lawsuit makes it more likely that taxpayers will end up buying a "free lunch" for the corporation who caused the injuries in the first place.  Why should taxpayers be forced to pay for the damages caused by a corporation's negligence?

Cross-posted to TortDeform