Health care professionals and insurance companies often lobby states to impose limits on jury awards that people can receive if they sue for medical malpractice. California and Texas, for example, instituted a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. Advocates for reform claim that caps lower doctors’ insurance premiums and overall insurance costs because of the lower jury awards. As a result, plaintiffs have less of an incentive to file lawsuits.
States with a highly urban population are often the targets of reform efforts, as the number of lawsuits and size of jury awards tend to be larger in such areas. The president of the Physician Insurers Association of America said that Washington, D.C. is generally a bad place for healthcare professionals to go to trial because juries are more likely to find them liable and for a large amount of money.
These caps unfortunately limit the amount of compensation that victims receive and restrict the penalties for healthcare professionals who act negligently. The motives behind medical malpractice lawsuit reform are often too economic in nature and meant to shield large companies like insurance providers from having to make payouts. Because they usually make decisions based on a cost-benefit analysis, insurance providers may find it more profitable to make the lower, capped payments instead of discouraging medical malpractice.
A Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorney is available to advise you concerning your rights if medical negligence has harmed your or a loved one. For more information on medical malpractice lawsuits, contact Marc Fiedler, a Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyer, at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.