Committee sponsors damages cap

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Monday, December 9, 2002

CHEYENNE – Just over a month ago, area physicians started getting notices from their insurance companies.

Dr. Robert Monger’s letter said his Cheyenne office’s medical malpractice insurance will go up by 38 percent next year.

Dr. Amy Trelease-Bell found out her office, Family Practice in Cheyenne, has to pay 15 percent more for coverage.

Recent and projected insurance rate hikes have left many doctors with three choices: raise rates charged to patients, stop providing certain services or retire.

To address the issue, physicians and insurance companies have been pushing for tort reform. That’s legal jargon for limiting the amount of non-economic damages recovered by victims of personal injuries.

Economic damages are the sum of medical expenses and wages lost by the injured party.

Non-economic damages, such as pain and emotional distress, do not have specific dollar values. In Wyoming, it’s up to juries to determine those awards.
. . .

Groups such as Americans for Insurance Reform say three states with non-economic damages caps are on the American Medical Association’s list of 12 states facing serious medical malpractice insurance problems.

According to a recent study by the group, the nation’s insurance companies are raising their rates to make up for stock market losses, not due to a lack of tort reform.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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