As part of his drive to seem like a middle-of-the-road bipartisan executive, President Barack Obama has proposed a $250 million incentive program to help states rewrite their medical malpractice laws in line with recommendations made by the bipartisan debt commission last year.
The main proposal at issue in the plan is the idea of health courts. In these courts, judges with specialized knowledge, training, and experience would consider medical malpractice lawsuits. On the positive side, this may make it easier for plaintiffs to get compensation for their serious injuries. Currently, even if a person has documented serious injuries due to a doctor’s error, they are only 73% likely to get compensation, according to a review of cases by a panel of experts in a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. They may also be helpful in controlling doctors’ irrational fear of medical malpractice lawsuits.
On the downside, health courts do have a number of drawbacks. First, they do not address the complaint that many tort reforms usurp the right to trial by jury. Second, having only a relatively small number of judges being responsible for the administration of health courts makes them highly susceptible to manipulation by insurance companies and others with a vested interest in denying compensation to victims of errors.
Still, if tort reform is inevitable, it is nice to know that damage caps are not part of the proposed reforms.
If you have been hurt or lost a loved one due to a doctor’s error, the medical malpractice lawyers at Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA can help. To learn more, please call or email us today to schedule your free initial consultation.