The right to a jury trial is a very important right in all cases, not just medical malpractice cases. It allows the parties to have the case tried in front a group of their peers. However, there is a legislative proposal circulating in Georgia that would abolish the right to a jury trial in all medical malpractice cases and replace it with a new government agency.
This government agency would be made up of political appointees and bureaucrats who would represent the medical and business communities. The people in this agency would be able to develop “compensation schedules” completely independent from the facts of any case. These schedules would determine the amount to award for any type of injury without consideration of the patient’s actual needs.
This would replace the current free-market approach used to hold health care providers accountable and instead apply government regulation. As a result the awards would likely be significantly lower than what may be awarded by a jury. This would hurt plaintiffs, especially plaintiffs who need the award to pay for future medical expenses, lost work, and other harms that resulted from the medical malpractice. A rigid schedule would not take this into account when looking at what the injury has been determined to be worth by the government agency.
It is surprising that the Georgia legislature would consider this proposal since the state’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down a law that capped compensation for patients which was a much more subtle intrusion on the jury’s power to determine damages. Therefore, even if the state legislature does pass this regulation, it is unlikely the state’s Supreme Court would uphold this law. Also the cost of implementing this proposal does not make any fiscal sense. The cost of compensation to seriously injured patients would be so far below their actual loss that they may be forced into other government health and disability programs raising costs to the government even more.
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.