Bill revives tort reform debate

United Press International
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

A new bill unveiled Wednesday in the U.S. senate would limit medical 
malpractice awards for non-economic damages -- or intangible losses to a
plaintiff known as "pain and suffering" -- to a maximum of $750,000.
But the legislation -- dubbed the Medical Care Access Protection Act of 2006 -- also stipulates that a $750,000 award would have be spread out over multiple defendants, with the plaintiff limited to an award of $250,000 against any one doctor or healthcare institution.
So to collect the full $750,000 in non-economic damages, a claimant alleging injury by medical negligence would need at least three parties to hold liable; for example, a healthcare provider and two healthcare institutions.
Plaintiffs suing multiple healthcare institutions would be limited to an
award of $500,000 against all of the institutions combined.

Mather also cited data from the Medical Liability Monitor showing that
premiums in states that imposed caps are 12.4 percent higher than states without caps. Another study released by theCenter for Justice and Democracy, she said, showed that, while insurance premiums more than doubled between 200 and 2004, malpractice claim pay-outs "remained essentially flat."
Skyrocketing malpractice premiums comes down to simple greed, she said. "Insurers are gouging doctors for their bottom lines."

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