Statutory caps on medical malpractice damage awards are a highly controversial topic. The victims of medical negligence are often under-compensated for the severe physical and emotional injuries that can result from a botched procedure or failure to diagnose a serious disease. Doctors and insurance companies, meanwhile, claim that these limitations help keep healthcare costs down. However, the evidence against this argument is mounting.
According to several well-respected sources, malpractice caps have not led to healthcare savings for individuals and families. In fact, in some parts of the country, health insurance premiums have nearly doubled in the last seven years. For those fortunate enough to have employer-provided insurance, the increase has meant smaller wage increases and trimmed benefits packages. For the millions of uninsured consumers, the insurance rate hike has put any hope of adequate medical care beyond reach.
In Michigan, we have a two-tiered malpractice cap. For most injuries, the noneconomic damages are capped at $280,000. If the malpractice resulted in brain injury, spinal injury, permanently impaired cognitive functioning, or loss or damage to a reproductive organ, the award is limited to $500,000. Both amounts are adjusted for inflation.
Simply put, medical malpractice damage awards caps have not resulted in massive savings to consumers. Doctors and insurance companies have reaped the benefits of their decreased accountability, while injured patients and their families struggle to receive a fair amount for their loss.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.