Columnist and ABC news personality John Stossel does a nice job in his column today putting the consequences of America’s superlitigious society into context. Focusing on medical malpractice suits, he observes that a $1 million jury award is just the start of the costs:
Doctors become more secretive, talk less openly with patients and become averse to acknowledging any mistake. Insurance premiums rise, and both doctors and hospitals pass the cost on to patients. Newly fearful, the medical device manufacturer decides to stick to proven technologies, dropping its plan to pursue a new line of tools that would make surgery less painful and less risky. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Lawyers, of course, get a big percentage of any award, but to cover what the lawyers take, the price tags of all consumer goods are a little higher. Life-saving products are especially penalized by the “lawyer tax.” A manufacturer who produces pacemakers says lawsuits add thousands of dollars to the cost of every pacemaker. Lawsuits punish hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people.
Stossel promises a follow-up column next week. But, yeah, we get the idea. Unfortunately.