With the enactment of “Obamacare” there has been a renewed push for medical malpractice “reforms” by the medical community.
We place the word “reforms” in quotation marks since the medical industry seeks to either eliminate or limit an injured person’s rights of recovery. There is no benefit for the malpractice victim.
The winds of “reform” are at both the state and federal level. You may recall that President Obama indicated in his State of the Union speech that medical malpractice “reforms” will be examined in connection with reducing medical costs.
Some of the reforms swirling around Albany include:
- Creating a neurologically impaired infant indemnity fund. This would take out of the courts cases involving the most seriously injured children. This would create a medical panel to determine if a severely injured child would receive future medical benefits on a “no fault” basis.
- Capping non-economic damages to $250,000. These are damages for pain and suffering, past and future. The loss of enjoyment of life is a very real element of damages.
- Early pre-trial showing of each defendant’s involvement in each case.
- Barring use at trial of statements of remorse or acceptance of responsibility by the medical defendants.
- An 182 day pre-suit notice period, presumably to allow pre-suit settlement.
The first two proposals, taking brain-impaired infant cases out of the courts and capping non-economic damages, are of great concern. Essentially, this would change medical malpractice litigation as we know it.
Mark E. Seitelman, 2/16/11, www.seitelman.com.