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March 19, 2020

The Impact of Medical Malpractice

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Personal Injury Attorney

A 2018 study by Johns Hopkins University, more than 250,000 people die every year in the United States due to medical errors and negligence, making it the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Some estimates reach as high as half a million people. Given the scope of the danger, consumers need the protection of medical malpractice suits. However, in recent years, efforts have focused on reforming medical malpractice laws to limit how much patients can recover when doctors act negligently. Here are some of the arguments for and against reform.

Damage Caps as Part of Medical Malpractice Reform

Medical malpractice reform efforts focus on damage caps, which is a limit on the amount of money an injured patient can collect from a doctor who caused harm. Some states cap punitive (non-economic) damages but not compensatory (economic) damages. Economic losses are reimbursement for expenses you incurred as a result of the injury. Examples of non-economic damages are pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Caps vary by state, but the federal government caps non-economic damages at $250,000. In most cases, juries are unable to circumvent damage caps.

Arguments for Medical Malpractice Reform

The proponents of medical malpractice reform primarily represent doctors, insurance companies, and similar groups. They argue that these cases cost too much, take too long, and distract medical professionals from patient care. Doctors may shy away from attempting life-saving procedures that carry high risks, and some leave the field entirely because of false claims against them. The cost of liability insurance is rising, which drives up the cost of operating a practice and increases the expense to all consumers.

Arguments Against Medical Malpractice Reform

Those who oppose medical malpractice reform point out that the increased costs are because medical errors are rising rather than an increase in lawsuits. Estimates are that less than a quarter of medical errors lead to a trial. As far as the increasing cost of liability insurance, opponents of reform argue that many factors contribute to premium calculations. They point out that the multimillion-dollar judgments and settlements only happen in the most egregious cases.

Help With a Medical Malpractice Case

Medical malpractice cases are highly technical, complex, and lengthy. If someone you love was harmed or died as a result of a physician’s error, contact a knowledgeable and experienced medical negligence lawyer in Salt Lake City, UT to get the help you need. Medical professionals must adhere to the highest possible standards to protect the patients they care for every day.

Thanks to Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into personal injury claims and medical malpractice reform.

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