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Medical malpractice awards may be unfairly limited by state laws

Those in Louisiana who are seeking damages from a negligent healthcare provider or professional must keep in mind that the state has a restrictive rule demanded by the medical and insurance lobbies that restricts a plaintiff's recovery for pain and suffering to $500,000. The law is particularly severe because, unlike in many other states, the law here also includes lost wages and lost earning capacity within the stated cap. Thus, a medical malpractice case that is technically worth millions may be restricted to the capped amount.

That kind of limitation can be extremely harmful to the rights of those who suffer from the ravages of medical malpractice. These include not only the patient but, in many cases, their spouses and children. It's critical to keep the debate in perspective. Recent studies indicate surprising details about the massive destructive impact that medical malpractice has had on the country.

For example, medical malpractice is one of the top three causes of death in the United States. That figure is magnified greatly when the numbers of people being severely injured by medical malpractice is factored in. One small example of the unfairness of these laws occurred recently in California, where a jury entered a verdict for $1.75 million to a brother and sister who lost their 44-year-old mother to medical malpractice in 2013 when they were both teenagers.

The state law there restricts the recovery to $250,000, making the jury's work useless and severely hampering the rights of the two victimized children, not to mention the value of the woman's young life, which was taken so prematurely. The surgeons in the case reportedly neglected to find a stomach perforation when they performed a standard surgical procedure to fix a hiatal hernia. The patient did not recover and died about six weeks later. The fairness of taking compensation from the children in this case should be evaluated and judged in the context of the new evidence that reveals the terrible toll that medical malpractice is taking on people in Louisiana as well as in the rest of the nation.

Source: mynewsla.com, "Jury awards family $1.75M in UCLA malpractice lawsuit", Hoa Quach, July 15, 2016

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