Congress proposes sweeping changes in malpractice laws

| Jun 21, 2017 | Hospital Negligence

Those in New Mexico who are fortunate enough to have never suffered an injury or lost a loved one at the hands of a negligent physician may say that a multi-million dollar malpractice lawsuit is outrageous. However, you know differently. You know that pain goes beyond physical discomfort and that, even when the physical pain abates, the emotional pain may continue.

Who can put a price or limit on the value of spending time with a loved one, the use of your arms or legs, or the ability to enjoy the simple pleasures you once did? Who can calculate the worth of months and years of frustration as you re-learn tasks you had known since childhood, like tying your shoes or walking? Unfortunately, U.S. lawmakers are pushing a bill that may do just that.

Proposed law could leave you suffering

A Republican-backed bill now under consideration in Congress seeks to limit the amount of damages you can win in a civil case you may bring against the doctor or medical facility responsible for your injury. The highlights of the proposal include:

  • You will still be able to receive what a court deems is fair compensation for your medical bills and related expenses without limit.
  • However, if a court agrees that you deserve non-economic damages, the law will restrict the court to awarding $250,000 even if a jury determines that you deserve a higher amount.
  • The cap of $250,000 is the total amount you can receive even if separate juries find in your favor for past and future non-economic damages.
  • The cap of $250,000 is the total amount you can receive for non-economic damages even if you file a lawsuit against multiple parties, such as a doctor, nurse and the hospital.
  • Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of companionship, loss of quality of life and other injuries with subjective value.

Many states, including New Mexico, have set their own caps for damages in medical malpractice cases. The bill suggests that the new law’s provisions will override any state caps. Additionally, the bill proposes setting a federal statute of limitations on filing medical injury claims, preempting — and in some cases reducing — the time limits in many states.

You suffer daily with the reminders of your doctor’s mistake, and it may seem impossible to put a dollar figure on that. In fact, placing a limit on the worth of your suffering may add even more pain to your situation. Fortunately, you have an advocate in a compassionate and dedicated attorney who will fight for your right to seek compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering.

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