Attorneys, Legal System Responsible
for Surging Medical Malpractice Rates,
According to Weiss Survey of Consumers

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., May 19, 2003 - Nearly seven in 10 consumers polled blame attorneys and the legal system for surging medical malpractice rates, according to a recent online survey conducted by Weiss Ratings, Inc., the nation's leading independent provider of ratings and analyses of financial services companies, mutual funds, and stocks. While 68.6 percent of respondents found lawyers and the court system to be primarily responsible, only 4.6 percent faulted the lawyers' clients — the medical patients bringing the legal actions.

The results of the online survey were based on voluntary responses from 1,340 individuals visiting the Weiss Ratings website (www.WeissRatings.com). Presented with the question, "Who do you feel is primarily at fault for today's surging medical malpractice rates?," respondents were asked to vote once for one of six choices. The following is a summary of all responses received:

Who do you feel is primarily at fault for today's surging medical malpractice rates?
The court system/juries20.2%
Insurance companies12.5%
Doctors/hospitals that have made mistakes11.5%
Medical patients bringing legal action4.6%

"Lawyers are always easy targets, especially when capping large jury awards has been publicly singled out as the key to lowering medical malpractice premiums," said David Lackey, president of Weiss Ratings, Inc. "While a disincentive to lawyers in the form of award caps may be warranted, I don't think it's going to be the panacea everyone is looking for."

Weiss Ratings, Inc. issues safety ratings on more than 15,000 financial institutions, including securities brokers, banks, insurers, and HMOs. Weiss also rates the risk-adjusted performance of more than 12,000 mutual funds and more than 9,000 stocks. Weiss Ratings is the only major rating agency that receives no compensation from the companies it rates. Revenues are derived strictly from sales of its products to consumers, businesses, and libraries.

Consumers needing more information on a specific stock or mutual fund can purchase a rating and summary analysis for as little as $7.95 through www.WeissRatings.com, or starting at $15 by calling 800-289-9222.

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Note to Editors: Weiss Ratings is currently studying the medical malpractice insurance issue and the impact that non-economic damage caps have on provider premiums, claims payout levels, and availability of coverage. Weiss will report its findings in a white paper to be issued in June 2003.

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