The Missouri legislature recently passed a bill placing caps on medical malpractice lawsuits and it looks to soon become law. If that happens, Missourians who’ve been critically injured by the avoidable mistakes of healthcare providers will suffer even further catastrophic harm.
Medical malpractice lawsuits arise when physicians and hospitals make errors that kill or seriously hurt patients. Patients and their families have the legal right to investigate why these mistakes were made and to hold the responsible parties accountable. Leading causes of medical errors include:
Compensation in Missouri Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Medical malpractice lawsuits seek to recover fair and just compensation for the harm done to victims. This includes economic damages – lost wages and expenses incurred because of the medical mistakes, for example – and non-economic damages, which are commonly known as the considerable pain and suffering the patient and/or family experienced because of a medical error.
Many states have capped the amount of compensation that injured parties in medical malpractice lawsuits can receive. Missouri is the latest, and it’s not the state’s only attempt. A previously passed med mal cap law was found unconstitutional and stricken from the books.
Missouri lawmakers in favor of the new caps offer a familiar endorsement for them. They contend that medical malpractice lawsuits unnecessarily raise insurance premiums for healthcare providers and suppress the number of doctors who practice in the state. Proponents of caps in other states have made similar claims in the past.
These claims have been proven false.
Do Medical Malpractice Caps Work?
The American Association of Justice reviewed insurance company data and found no correlation between caps on medical malpractice awards and medical malpractice insurance premiums. The only cause-and-effect the organization found was that profits for insurance companies rose much faster in states that had compensation caps than in those that did not.
It also found that medical malpractice insurance premiums continued to rise at the same rate in states with caps as those with no restrictions.
Will Missouri’s cap on medical malpractice lawsuits bring more doctors to the state? Texas lawmakers offered this rationale when they passed a cap law. According to a study released 10 years following the installment of the state’s restrictions, Texas saw no growth rate increase in doctors after enacting the limits.
So what’s the real effect for Missourians when med mal caps became law? Their legal rights will be sorely constrained, with the government’s shadow looming ever larger in their lives.
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