You have likely heard of medical malpractice cases where victims are awarded tens of millions of dollars for their injuries. More than likely, their medical bills did not cost quite that much money. The majority of these awards are often to compensate the victim for non-economic damages.
Non-economic damages refer to damages that cannot be easily calculated. They refer to emotional damages such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment of life.
Many medical malpractice victims receive millions of dollars in non-economic damages. Certain lawmakers, however, think this is unfair and are trying to change that.
What H.R. 1215 Will Do
If passed, H.R. 1215—also called the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017—will limit non-economic damages to $250,000. Lawmakers apparently think that $250,000 is enough to cover any pain and suffering and other damages that a medical malpractice faces. However, a cap of $250,000 is not enough to punish a doctor and keep him or her from performing the same mistake again.
Most states—31 in total—already have damage caps in place, but not all are so low of an amount.
Some states have damage caps that start low and actually increase in certain situations. Florida is an example of this. The damage cap was once $500,000, which increased to $750,000 if the defendant was not a practitioner. If the medical malpractice caused a vegetative state or death, then the cap would rise to $1 million. However, just several months ago, the Florida Supreme Court ruled damage caps as unconstitutional
Effect on the Victim
While $250,000 may be sufficient for some victims who suffered minor injuries, the victims who suffer life-threatening injuries are the ones who will suffer. Will $250,000 truly be enough money to compensate a once-active man or woman who made a substantial income, and now cannot work or lay a foundation for his/her children and grandchildren? What about the activities, hopes and dreams this person would have enjoyed?
Additionally, almost all medical malpractice lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means they get paid a portion of the award amount, but only if they win. If an award amount is going to be limited by damage caps, lawyers will be less likely to take on cases. Their bottom line will be affected, which could mean limited resources and possibly fewer pro-bono cases. Struggling victims may find it difficult to locate a lawyer who will be willing to take on their case.
Get Legal Help for Your Medical Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice is a serious issue that can lead to injury and even death. It’s important that you receive the compensation you deserve to pay for physical injuries and emotional damages. Damage caps, however, keep victims from pursuing cases. The Miami medical malpractice attorneys at the law offices of Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP understand how devastating a medical error can be and will help you take legal action. Request a free consultation by calling our law offices today at 305-371-2692.