(Hey Squawker, do you know how to resize those pics?)
I'll give you a real world example, Champs. I work for an insurance company. 8 years ago, the biggest money maker for the company was insuring doctors, hospitals, and clinics for med mal (medical malpractice lawsuits). 5 years ago we purchased a large insurance company that only did med mal insurance. 4.5 years ago we scrambled to get out of the med mal business. Why? It was no longer profitable. In fact, we were quickly sinking into the red because of it. It took a bit of time too, to get out of some of the states because of insurance regulations insisted by law that we still insure these doctors/hospitals/clinics no matter what. And those prices were decided by the state bureau of insurance. So we had to take a bath in those states by selling premiums that didn't make up for the losses we'd incur.
About 3.5 years ago we stopped writing policies for med mal altogether as we were out of all of the states. We are still paying out on claims. I work with deductibles and talk with these hospitals and doctors about insurance a lot. They speak of how hard it was to find another insurance company to take on med mal after we left the market. Doctors are leaving states like Mississippi in droves because they can no longer afford to keep up with paying insurance just in case something happens. And when things do happen, their deductible has put them out of business (deductibles I've seen have been between $100.00 and $1,000,000.00). Put on top of that, how litigious this country has become, how personal responsibility is quickly eschewed, and the fact that because of a state's tort laws doctors are leaving, we've got a big problem.
Tort reform is a sticky situation. I agree with the $250K cap. The cap itself only applies to non-economic damages. Seems fair to me because how can one really put an arbitrary price on things. Let's talk about the infamous McDonald's Coffee lawsuit.
(I'm linking to that website as it does give the full facts) A woman is handing a cup of coffee that is hot and the lid comes off and scalds her with third degree burns on her groin, thighs and buttocks that required skin grafts and a seven-day hospital stay. She sues McDonald's because they had dismissed her original request for medical bills. She is originally award $2.7 MILLION dollars which is later reduced to $480K.
Now McDonald's was in the wrong there. They had previously had 700 incidents regarding this and had settled them. The problem is, what's an equitable settlement? Is it $2.7 million dollars? Is it $480K? Is it $100K? How does one put a price on a person? I've seen lawsuits come by where negligence by a doctor killed a person and the survivors have got much less than what she got. I've seen cases where a person had his leg amputated because of gangrene and they cut off the wrong one. He got less money than she did. I've also seen cases where a lot less has happened (a slip and fall in a parking lot) and they've gotten more money than she did and there was nothing wrong with the parking lot. There has to be a line drawn in the sand somewhere.
Now back to the non-economic damages part which is crucial. The $250K is for punitive damages and not medical bills. Medical bills which can really add up. Non-economic damages also do not include loss of wages.
Just because an incident like the coffee happens, doesn't mean the world should be that person's cash cow whose teat will be milked dry because you were "wronged" and not only want to be made whole again, but much better.