When a doctor treats a patient and deviates from the standard of care, resulting in injury to the patient, the victim of the medical malpractice may bring a lawsuit against the physician to recover damages. Studies have shown that failure to diagnose illness and medication are the most common reasons patients have for being medical malpractice lawsuits. Every year, as many as 200,000 people die due to these medical errors. However, of all personal liability cases medical malpractice lawsuits make up a small percentage.
Over the past year medical malpractice tort reform has been in the news in both Missouri and Kansas. The actions of the highest courts in both of these states as well as the Missouri legislature have been considering changes to legislation that concerns medical negligence. The changes that have recently been made to medical malpractice law will have an effect on health care providers and those who have been injured due to the negligence of health care providers.
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled last summer that a 2005 law that capped noneconomic damages was an infringement on a citizens’ right to trial by jury and therefore unconstitutional. Prior to the state’s Constitution in 1820, Missouri state citizens were able to sue for damages for medical malpractice under English common law. Under the Bill of Rights in Missouri’s Constitution, the right to a trial by jury is inviolate. The Court found that by placing a statutory limit on damages, the jury was deprived the issue. Therefore the Court struck down the medical malpractice cap.
In Missouri, the 2013 legislative session has seen proposals to bring back the cap on damages. However, the bill encountered serious debate and was not able to gain the necessary votes needed to pass.
The Kansas Supreme Court upheld its state’s $250,000 limit on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases in October 2012. Under the law the jury does not hear about the cap on non-economic damages. If the jury awards an amount greater than the cap, the judge will reduce the amount. In one case, the patient appealed the decision to reduce the damages to the amount allowed by the cap. However, the Kansas court found that the cap was acceptable. However the majority opinion called for an increase in the cap. The legislature has not increased the amount.
Medical negligence can be very serious; resulting in injuries and possibly even death. If you have been injured by the negligence of a doctor, you should contact an experienced attorney to review your case.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.