"One of the best decisions I had ever made"
- Joseph Lugo
NEW YORK, NY, PRWEB (October 12, 2009) – The relentless cries for tort reform from republican members of Congress, and their insurance industry supporters, over the past 25 years, and the constant drubbing trial lawyers have taken during the 8-year reign of George W. Bush, has left American juries so brainwashed by the repeated lies and misinformation that it’s almost impossible for victims of medical malpractice to get a fair trial, and thus receive the compensation they deserve for injuries suffered at the hands of careless doctors and negligent hospitals, insists one New York medical malpractice lawyer who has spent an entire 30-year career fighting for the rights of patients.
“Doctors complain there are too many lawsuits,” said David Perecman, founder of The Perecman Firm,” “But the fact is, only 1 in 10 calls to medical malpractice insurance companies from doctors, or hospitals, who anticipate the possibility of having a claim filed against them by a patient, based on their knowledge of the patient’s treatment and outcome, ever actually results in a lawsuit being filed against the doctor.”
According to Perecman, the high cost of medical malpractice insurance has much less to do with lawsuits, or excessive jury awards, than big insurance and conservative politicians would have us believe.
Recent studies reveal that caps on medical malpractice verdicts – an aspect of tort reform often proffered by critics of existing laws that protect patients — have had little, or no, effect on the cost of doctors’ medical malpractice insurance. Furthermore, high insurance premiums, according to the studies, cannot be blamed on a preponderance of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits.
“If we just go from past experience,” New York City lawyer Perecman said, “we already know that the cost of medical malpractice insurance is unlikely to be reduced by placing arbitrary caps on compensation, or by the other self-serving alternative of having panels of doctors decide if a plaintiff’s claim is valid before a case is allowed to reach the courts. Instead, this proposal would turn our civil justice system into a bureaucratic nightmare where patients would have no one to take their side.
“In my opinion,” he added, “what doctors really want is almost absolute immunity from suit. They rarely believe they’ve done anything wrong, even in cases where their care is highly questionable.”
According to Perecman, the real reasons why insurance premiums for doctors are so high are these: 1. The high volume of medical malpractice committed by doctors, hospitals and staff; 2. Greedy insurance companies;
3. Poor investment choices and a weak stock market for the insurance industry; and, 4. The high cost of maintaining a catastrophically injured patient.
“Just try to add up what it might cost a family over the lifetime of a child who was brain-damaged at birth by a careless doctor,” he said.
Because of the steady barrage of TV commercials, advertisements in newspapers and magazines, and other public relations tactics funded in large part by the insurance industry lobby, the American public has come to believe that juries in medical malpractice lawsuits are just giving money away to plaintiffs.
“This totally cynical attitude,” Perecman, a New York City lawyer, explained, “is making a mockery of our civil justice system. The fact is, more medical malpractice lawsuits that go to verdict in New York State are won by the defendant, the doctor, than by the patient. There is no better system of justice than to have a jury of your peers hear the evidence and decide the truth of the claims. Is the system perfect? No. Of course not. No system is perfect. But there isn’t a better, or more fair one, anywhere else in the world.”
Perecman said that while insurance companies love to blame lawyers for the high cost of medical care, the fact is the cost of medical malpractice litigation represents only about 1-to-2% of the total cost of healthcare in this country.
“But to hear republicans in Congress talk about it,” Perecman said, “you would think that malpractice litigation is the only factor responsible for driving up the cost of healthcare, and that tort reform is the only solution to the problem.”
“What never gets talked about,” he said, “is the fact that big insurance companies refuse to show the government their books. And, some of these companies have monumental reserves of cash on hand. They are making money hand over fist. They like to blame their need to gouge doctors on trial lawyers. But, when you look at the facts, you have to ask yourself, why is it that every time the stock market goes down, insurance carriers cry out for tort reform. What are they hiding?”
New York medical malpractice lawyer, Perecman said the other important point people seem to be missing is that if the doctor who causes the problem isn’t held accountable, “The cost of caring for the damaged patient falls on the state, which is paid for with our tax dollars,” he said.