Are Medical Malpractice Caps Fair?

Medical malpractice cases pose unique problems.  In medical malpractice cases, plaintiffs are usually injured, sometimes visibly.  Their stories can be heart wrenching.  Juries often see and hear a sympathetic plaintiff and start writing oversized checks. 

Although the same can be said for other areas of the law, the defendant in medical malpractice cases are also particularly unsympathetic.  Hospitals or doctors often do not garner much compassion from the jury.  Thus, juries will tend to award extremely high recoveries to the ailing plaintiff.

Large jury awards have not escaped the attention of lawmakers.  There has been an influx of laws enacted specifically to thwart medical malpractice cases.  Laws have restricted medical malpractice cases by placing a cap on the amount the jury can award to any plaintiff in any given case.  Caps vary from state to state.

It is certainly true that the medical malpractice cap needs to be high enough to allow victims of varying degrees of damages to recover enough to compensate for their injuries, distress, and medical bills. 

However, doctors and other tort reform proponents have worked tirelessly to make sure caps are not too high.  Doctors have sound arguments.  If caps are too high in any given state, picture all the doctors walking out and driving to the next state with lower medical malpractice premiums.  Or, picture doctors in said state shutting down their practices after frivolous and costly medical malpractice suits.

The aforementioned results do not benefit the general public.  One person should not be allowed an unjustly high recovery, at the behest of the rest of the state.

Still, some argue it is patently unfair to put a cap on what one can recover with absolutely no regard for the specific facts of his or her case.  Caps cannot and do not take into account each person’s case.  The one size fits all theory may not work when you are talking about a person’s health.

Posted in Medical Malpractice

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