Caps Hurt Victims of Medical Mistakes

By April 26, 2008Medical Malpractice

Caps or limits on awards for non-economic damages in Medical Malpractice cases save insurance companies money at the expense of justice for the elderly, young children and the poor in Missouri obtaining justice.
In 2005 Missouri law placed limits on the amount of damages that can be recovered when a doctor, a hospital or other medical professional makes a careless mistake. Under the law passed almost three years ago, injured victims or their families may only receive $350,000 for the pain and suffering caused by the carelessness of another.
Actual damage awards often hinge on lost wages. For the poor who work low incomes jobs, for the elderly who are retired or for the young unable to choose a career, lost wages can be small to nonexistent. As a result, their ability to recover for reckless or even intentional conduct through punitive damages has been severely restricted.
Lawyers are increasingly being forced to turn away medical malpractice cases because the substantial litigation costs associated with pursuing the cases often leaves the victims or their families with little after the expenses are deducted.
Last week, the Associated Press reported on the press conference held by Gov. Matt Blunt touting the medical malpractice caps as a boon for business.
But I have to agree with St. Louis lawyer Ken Vuylsteke who remarked: “What the governor trumpets as a great success we think is a travesty of justice to the people of Missouri.” I also doubt that the law so far has had any great effect on losses or insurance premiums because the law only applied to cases filed after August 28, 2005. It takes approximately 2 years for a case after it is filed to be settled or tried. The statistics the Governor cited were for 2006 which were probably all or almost all pre-tort reform cases to which the lower caps did not apply. This is another example of a politician taking credit for something that was not the result of the new law. When the statistics come in for cases filed after August 28, 2005 I expect to see even greater reductions, but remember the reductions come at the expense of the poor, elderly and children. I just don’t think that is good policy.
The lawyers of Carey, Danis & Lowe are experienced in helping people injured by medical malpractice. We will seek compensation for past and future medical expenses, past and future wages, pain and suffering, disability and other damages. We also represent family members in wrongful death cases.
We offer a free initial consultation for victims of medical malpractice. If you cannot make it to our office, we will come to you at the hospital or your home.