Finance
e-Newsletter
Intelligence Unit Special Reports Special Events Subscribe Sponsored Departments Follow Us

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn RSS

State Medical Malpractice Caps Under Fire

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 28, 2014

Many states that passed malpractice caps a decade ago should expect to see judicial review because caps aren't passing constitutional muster and aren't delivering on what they advertised, says a legal expert.

The Florida Supreme Court's ruling this spring invalidating that state's 11-year-old cap on damages in medical malpractice suits marks the latest successful challenge to state laws across the nation that critics say enrich insurance companies but deny due process to grievously injured people.

"It is unfortunately a constant battle for victims of malpractice. This seems to go on in just about every state," says Richard Levin, a medical malpractice attorney with the Chicago-based firm of Levin, Riback Law Group.

"What seems to be the overriding ethos of the insurance companies and the physicians is that the premiums are too high and doctors are leaving the state and as a result we have a malpractice crisis. But the statistics bear out the exact opposite."

The battle over malpractice caps reignited in March when on a 5–2 ruling the Florida Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a 2003 statute that capped at $1 million medical malpractice payouts for intangible damages such as pain and suffering.

The Florida case involved the 2006 death of a pregnant 20-year-old woman who died from complications that arose during labor. The woman's family was awarded $2 million for pain and suffering, but that award was halved to comply with the state statute, which was passed into law at a time when many states were enacting "tort reform."

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Comments are moderated. Please be patient.

1 comments on "State Medical Malpractice Caps Under Fire"


john winninger (4/28/2014 at 10:35 AM)
While malpractice caps have brought down insurance rates for physicians, what they don't do is change practice behavior. Physicians don't do less testing because they are not longer afraid of malpractice suits. The right has been selling this as the way to reduce healthcare costs, but in state after state with caps, we see no evidence at all of physicians changing behavior. Why? Because physicians do extra testing for so many more influential reasons: patients think more testing is better medicine, physicians learn that extra testing is standard of care, physician's get paid more if they own the machines that do the tests, etc etc etc.