Reforms for a Less Capricious, More Affordable Justice System

By May 10, 2009Briefly Legal

The San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute has released a new report, “Tort Law Tally,” identifying which state tort reforms are most effective in reducing tort losses and tort insurance premiums.

Sally Pipes, President and CEO of PRI, discusses the report in the Washington Examiner today in an op-ed, “A swift re-tort: How to fight lawsuit abuse.” Excerpt:

From 1996 through 2005, roughly 20 million tort lawsuits were filed in U.S. state courts. During that time, the combined payouts for losses and insurance premiums associated with state tort cases jumped a full 60 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Unfortunately, less than 15 cents of every tort-cost dollar goes to compensate the injured victims, so those huge payouts wind up lining the pockets of the middlemen—the personal-injury lawyers.
Tort reform can stop this cycle of spiraling tort costs, which get passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services. Tort Law Tally, a new study from the Pacific Research Institute, identified 18 measures that, taken together, can slash tort payouts by almost 50 percent and cut consumers’ annual insurance premiums by 16 percent.

The study reports that when tort reforms are ordered according to each reform’s ability to reduce aggregate tort losses, the top eight reforms are:

  1. attorney-retention sunshine (12-percent reduction)
  2. Daubert rule (10 percent)
  3. frivolous lawsuits (7 percent)
  4. jury service (6 percent)
  5. appeal-bond caps (4 percent)
  6. negligence standard (3 percent)
  7. non-economic-damage caps (2 percent)
  8. medical-malpractice damage caps (1 percent)

 Download the study here as a .pdf file.


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