Defences in medical negligence : to what extent has tort law reform in Australia limited the liability of health professionals?

Yule, Jennifer M. (2011) Defences in medical negligence : to what extent has tort law reform in Australia limited the liability of health professionals? In Australasian Law Teachers Association Conference (ALTA 2011), 3-6 July 2011, Stamford Hotel, Brisbane, QLD. (Unpublished)

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Tort law reform has resulted in legislation being passed by all Australian jurisdictions in the past decade implementing the recommendations contained in the Ipp Report. The report was in response to a perceived crisis in medical indemnity insurance. The objective was to restrict and limit liability in negligence actions. This paper will consider to what extent the reforms have impacted on the liability of health professionals in medical negligence actions. The reversal of the onus of proof through the obvious risk sections has attempted to extend the scope of the defence of voluntary assumption of risk. There is no liability for the materialisation of an inherent risk. Presumptions and mandatory reductions for contributory negligence have attempted to reduce the liability of defendants. It is now possible for reductions of 100% for contributory negligence. Apologies can be made with no admission of legal liability to encourage them being made and thereby reduce the number of actions being commenced. The peer acceptance defence has been introduced and enacted by legislation. There is protection for good samaritans even though the Ipp Report recommended against such protection. Limitation periods have been amended. Provisions relating to mental harm have been introduced re-instating the requirement of normal fortitude and direct perception. After an analysis of the legislation, it will be argued in this paper that while there has been some limitation and restriction, courts have generally interpreted the civil liability reforms in compliance with the common law. It has been the impact of statutory limits on the assessment of damages which has limited the liability of health professionals in medical negligence actions.

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ID Code: 46732
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: defences, medical, negligence, Australia, reforms
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Tort Law (180126)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Law and Justice Research Centre
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Jennifer Yule
Deposited On: 31 Oct 2011 22:30
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2011 06:16

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