, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 115-133

Losers and losers: Some demographics of medical malpractice tort reforms

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Abstract

Our research examines how recent reforms have affected a key aspect of patients’ implicit insurance present in medical malpractice torts. Specifically, we estimate how non-economic damages caps affected pre-trial settlement speed and settlement amounts. Maximum entropy (most likely) quantile regressions emphasize that the post-reform settlement effects most informative for policy evaluation differ greatly from OLS (mean) estimates and clarify the conclusion emerging. In particular, the effect of the tort reform here can best be thought of as a 25% tax on the asset value of settlements that exempts settlements involving infants. The social welfare effects of tort reform are less clear than the asset reduction effects due to likely health state dependent utility.

We thank Mary Santy for help with manuscript preparation, the editor and an anonymous referee for helpful comments on our research, and Jim Ziliak and Antonio Galvao Jr. for programming help with the maximum entropy quantile regression model.