Back when I was in law school I had a torts professor who made a habit of searching out “good Samaritan” cases. Those were alleged law suits in which a physician, coming upon an automobile accident, saved a life only to be sued by the patient for malpractice. The professor never found an actual “good Samaritan” case. As he pointed out, it was a lie created by the insurance industry to discredit the torts bar. (AKA “Ambulance Chasers”).
The insurance industry’s long and successful history of lying for profit is well documented in Hot Coffee, a documentary running now on HBO. It is a must-see for anyone who ever wondered what this “tort reform” stuff is all about. Mostly, it’s about the trial lawyers being vilified, victims being left without a remedy, and corporations getting away with, at the very least, gross negligence.
In a nutshell, the widely circulated story about an old lady who got millions for having spilled coffee on herself is a lie. There is such an old lady. She was severely burned and nearly died. She only asked McDonalds to cover her substantial medical expenses and she never got close to millions in the end. And, in states where tort reform is depriving victims of any opportunity to recover their losses, the insurance companies have raised rates, not lowered them.
This all brings me to a prayer I wrote some years ago for people who support tort reform. It goes like this:
May you smash up your left leg in an automobile accident caused by defective brakes.
May your surgeon amputate your right leg by mistake.
May you live in a state with a cap on tort damages.