Leeseberg & Valentine

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The Impact of Tort Reform On Medical Malpractice Lawyers

At the 2013 American Bar Association Midyear Meeting, Research Professor Stephen Daniels presented his findings on the impact of tort reform on medical malpractice lawyers and personal injury lawyers. Specifically, they studied the peoples' access to justice and the effects of tort reform on plaintiffs' lawyers' practices. In explaining his research, Professor Daniels explained why he no longer takes medical malpractice cases - especially those involving children, the elderly, and "stay-at-home moms." The reason is the statutory cap on non-economic damages in medical cases enacted in Texas in 2003. Ohio enacted the same type of legislation in 2003 also, and that legislation led to the same results here in Ohio.

Referring to the long-running tort reform public relations campaigns, one lawyer interviewed said, "you can say it's a legislative agenda ... (but) the most severe impact is right over there, when you go to pick a jury." A defense lawyer simply called that campaign his "silent helper" because of its perceived affect on jurors. These statements are very accurate, and not just in Texas. Unfortunately, the impact of the tort reform PR campaign has forced firms to be extremely selective in what cases can reasonably be accepted.

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