Medical Malpractice Caps Unfairly Shift the Burden of the Medical Providers Negligence to Injured Patients

By January 5, 2008Medical Malpractice

As a medical malpractice lawyer who practices in Missouri, Illinois as well as other states, I know that medical malpractice cases are difficult and expensive cases to handle. Medical malpractice cases are also more difficult to win in comparison to a product liability case because in a product liability case you can generally present evidence that the corporation knew of the risk of injury, could make the product sager but made the conscious decision to put profits over safety. In a medical malpractice case you have a doctor who is in a caring profession, who did not mean to injure their patient but just made a mistake which resulted in one of their patients being injured.
Over the last several years insurance companies and large corporations have spent millions of dollars convincing the public that a medical malpractice crises exists. The effect of this well organized disinformation campaign has made it more difficult for plaintiffs to win medical malpractice cases. These campaigns have influenced some state legislatures to limit the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover in a medical malpractice for non-economic damages which are commonly known as pain and suffering.
These laws have dramatic effects, for example in California the cap is $250,000 and in Missouri it is $350,000. Furthermore, in both states the cap is not indexed to keep pace with inflation. What these laws do is unfairly shift the burden of the medical providers negligence from the hospital or doctor who made the error and who can insure against the loss to the individual whose life has been dramatically changed by the medical providers negligence.
Who can legitimately argue that if you are paralyzed or suffer a permanent disability from a medical providers negligence that $350,000 is adequate compensation. The public needs to be aware of the effect of these laws and express their outrage at this unfair risk shifting from medical providers who are able to protect themselves by obtaining insurance, to patients who maybe be burdened with permanent disabilities and inadequate compensation to help ease their suffering and without any means to protect themselves. These laws need to be changed by the legislatures and they need to be challenged in court. As a matter of fact, a judge in Chicago Illinois recently held that Illinois “medical tort reform law” which included a cap on non-economic damages was unconstitutional. The defendant in that case has appealed the judges decision to the Illinois Court of Appeals and a final decision will not be made on this issue for months.
People analyze this issue objectively and not fall for the propaganda put out by insurance companies and the medical community. As a medical malpractice lawyer I will do my part by picking the best case I can to challenge these laws. The public can do its part by voting for candidates who represent the people of their district or state and not corporations and insurance companies.