I wrote recently about what I thought was the primary fuel to the tort reform engine: people do not expect to be the victims of an accident that is the result of the negligence of someone else, and they certainly do not expect to be victims of malpractice. Statistically, they are right.
The odds were in favor of a West Virginia gynecologist when he went in for abdominal surgery last month. But after his surgery, the gynecologist developed an infection and developed severe and debilitating abdominal pain, decreased consciousness and overwhelming septic shock, requiring mechanical ventilation and additional surgeries. Attributing his injuries to negligence, the gynecologist brought a lawsuit against his doctors and the hospital for medical malpractice.
Flashback to April 7, 2008, the day before the doctor’s surgery: What would have the doctor said about caps on medical malpractice cases on that day? What would he have said about whether litigation is the answer? Obviously, in this case, he thought litigation was the only answer, filing suit an almost unheard of one month after the alleged negligence.
Assuming this doctor supported malpractice reform and caps before filing suit, does that make this West Virginia gynecologist a hypocrite? If you contend that he is, you have a lot of ammunition. But we have a hard time putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes and when we are forced to do so, it forever changes our perspective. The fuel that fills the tort reform bus is that most people on the ride have never meaningfully suffered from the negligence of someone else. People who are lifelong riders of the bus – like this doctor probably was – almost invariably get off at the first stop after they have suffered a serious injury that due care could have avoided.