House GOP question dem med-mal claims

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Republican lawmakers on Tuesday tried to counter Democratic efforts to blame the rising insurance costs for doctors on factors outside the legal system.

But Keith A. Hebeisen, a Chicago lawyer with Clifford Law Offices who represented the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, said the situations were strikingly different.
Clients agree to contingency fees when they hire a lawyer, but ISMIE policyholders don't know how much they're paying executives at their insurance company, he said.
Hebeisen also stressed that contingency fee rates in medical malpractice are limited by a sliding scale in a state statute. In Illinois, medical malpractice cases are the only type of cases with such a limit, he noted.
Rep. Eileen Lyons, R-Western Springs, challenged the findings of a study touted by a consumer group estimating that medical errors led to more deaths than AIDS, breast cancer or traffic deaths.
Amber Hard, staff director for the Center for Justice and Democracy, cited the study in an earlier hearing as she made her case for increasing state oversight of physicians.
Hard said caps could limit patients' access to lawyers, especially if the patients needed an attorney's help to determine whether their doctors acted appropriately in treating them.

Lobbyists from ISMIE blame the recent spike in rates to larger awards and to more frequent lawsuits against doctors.
But at Tuesday's meeting, James E. Tierney, an ISMIE vice president and lobbyist, acknowledged that the carrier reported a slight decrease in both the average size of pay-outs and the rate of claims made against it during 2004.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

Join Our Fight!

The Center for Justice & Democracy is the only national consumer organization in the country exclusively dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. If you'd like more information, please contact us.

Connect with us