mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers...

NRO's The Corner links to a Time survey that shows 35% of people thinking Edward's lawyer experience is a plus, while only 28% think it's a negative. That kind of surprises me.

Part of that reason is having read this excellent Mark Steyn article on Edwards (via PowerLine). I have a big problem with medical malpractice lawsuits like those Edwards won. Sure, if a doctor does something overtly negligent (shows up at the operating room drunk, prescribes a drug someone has a documented allergy to, ect) they should be sued. But it frequently seems that people believe that surgery is foolproof, that everything will go fine as long as the doctor doesn't screw up, and I don't think it's that simple. Medicine is inherently risky, and we've gotten to the point where we can save people who we couldn't a few decades ago. If we punish doctors for negative results of surgeries that are inherently risky, we discourage those surgeries from ever happening - and some people who would have lived die, and we are all worse off.

I'm especially sensitive to the risky surgery argument because I had open heart surgery when I was 4. Open heart surgery on a four year old isn't exactly a cakewalk, and I'm lucky that everything went well. But I think too many malpractice lawsuits discourages risky but possibly life saving surgery.

The second reason for my general dislike of trial lawyers is that I had a family member who was in 8th grade when he was hit by a car while riding his bike. The people who hit the 8th grader sued the kid's parent's for being negligent in, well, letting their kid get hit by them. This dragged on for years before the kid's parents homeowners insurance company settled. There is something disturbing about a system where years and dollars can be spent suing a kid on a bike for being hit by a car.

I also worked for two summers in college for a large insurance company. Some of the lawsuits we saw were justified - cases where the driver was drunk or overtly negligent. But some were ludicrous (ie drunk guy crossing 6 lane highway at 3 in the morning gets hit by multiple cars. First 2 cars drive away, third car stops. Because they couldn't find the first 2 drivers, the family sued the 3rd guy - the one who was honest enough to stop).

I'm not saying that all trial lawyers are bad - I think that we need some, and I think they provide a balance against overt recklessness by companies and individuals. I also think that lawsuits can be a better way of solving some problems than laws. But Edwards is a guy who sues doctors for making decisions that were perfectly rational, then complains about the high cost of health care, and that makes me, well, sick.


At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Rainbow Bird said...

Get the book THE RULE OF LAWYERS by WALTER OLSON and read about some realy doozies


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