Medical Malpractice Caps Favor Insurance Companies Instead Of Protecting Injury Victims ran a story this morning about two medical malpractice lawyers in Louisiana. The lawyers are trying to fight the medical malpractice cap adopted by the State of Louisiana, one of twenty-five states to adopt such legislation. At simplest, these caps put a roof on the possible rewards for victims of medical malpractice. In Louisiana, and some other states, the cap is $500,000. In the case in which these two Louisiana lawyers are fighting the cap, a thirteen year-old girl, who had to have her leg amputated because of malpractice, was awarded by a jury of her peers around $3.5 million dollars. She cannot and will not receive this award, because of the cap.

It reminds me of the way in which politicians have tied the hands of judges in mandatory minimum sentencing legislation. Just as a judge, whose been appointed or voted to the bench by us, cannot use his or her expertise to sentence and rule on criminal trials, so too are juries of our peers prevented from making determinations based on their own humanity and understanding of medical malpractice cases, such as this one. So, inevitably, we ask why?

This article from BusinessReport explains quite accurately that the caps exist to prevent medical malpractice insurance providers from raising insurance premiums to the extent that doctors will avoid practicing medicine in states with high premiums. This would lower the quality of health care in certain states. This logic is upsetting in two ways. First, the discussion of whether or not the health care quality has increased in those states seems a bit undercut by way of its context: a thirteen year old girl who’s missing a leg, because of malpractice in a state with a cap. Second, its an example of politicians trying to legislatively control our legal system (to the detriment of the average American) by tying the hands of juries, rather than trying to legislatively control the big-business insurance companies, who are hiking up doctors’ medical malpractice insurance rates. To this day, the purchase and regulation of car insurance has been legislatively mandated by our federal government. Why not control the medical insurance companies rather than risk a fall-out of quality health care and the deprivation of reasonable rewards to children who have suffered from medical malpractice? They have shown no reason why they cannot regulate the insurance premiums, rather than the victim’s rewards.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical malpractice, you may have a claim for damages. For more information, please go to the New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney page.

John R. Mininno, Esq. is a New Jersey and Pennsylvania trial lawyer representing clients in medical malpractice, defective products and other serious injury claims. He also writes about issues concerning patient safety. His offices are in Collingswood, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.

Myth – Malpractice Insurance Premiums Driving Doctors Out of Business?

A new study that will appear in the May/June issue of the journal Health Affairs debunking the claims of the American Medical Association (AMA) and malpractice pundits in Washington that high malpractice insurance premiums are driving doctors out of business.

The study reveals that medical malpractice rate have actually declined. Based on year 2000 dollars, mean malpractice premiums increased from $5,934 in 1970 to $20,106 in 1986, and then declined to $15,478 in 1996. Premiums rose from 1996 until the AMA discontinued the surveys in 2000, when mean premiums were $18,400, still lower than 1986, the study said.

However, the study conceded that when you look at percentage of total practice expenses, premiums haven’t changed that much. In 1970, they were 6% of expenses. They then rose to 11% in 1986, dropped to 6% in 1996, and rose slightly to 7% in 2000.

Nevertheless, the Chambers of commerce and other groups who want to limit the public’s access to the courts will continue to spend millions of dollars each year to convince ordinary citizens that their is a lawsuit crisis in this country.