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Medical malpractice damages caps are unfair to innocent victims

Now that a highly respected study by medical researchers indicates that medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the country, public awareness of the problem is hopefully growing. The crisis indicates an industry-wide scandal that the medical industry must work to reverse. Up until the release of those statistics, the medical and insurance industries had monopolized legislative influence in many states. The industry's lobbyists had compelled state lawmakers in many states, including in Louisiana, to pass anti-consumer, restrictive laws limiting mercilessly what innocent medical victims or their families could collect in cases of serious medical malpractice.

In Louisiana, there is a damages cap of $500,000. Whether additional amounts can be added to a settlement or recovery in any particular case is a matter to take up with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. The problem, however, with such caps is that they fail to fairly take care of the victims of serious medical malpractice. Thus, the catastrophic tragedy of becoming paralyzed or brain damaged permanently due to a doctor's negligence, for example, is exacerbated by a legal system that does not provide due compensation.

Egregious cases of malpractice illustrate the unfairness of the damages caps. In one out-of-state case, a family recently filed a suit against a hospital and doctor for the death of a man who went in for bypass heart surgery and died the next day. He died because the doctor allegedly put him on a heart-lung bypass machine too long. The same doctor is the subject of similar death and injury claims for allegedly botching numerous heart surgeries.

In fact, the hospital fired the doctor in 2011 after reviewing the results of the seven surgeries that he had performed. There were two deaths and other seriously injurious results. The hospital took the necessary action, but in Louisiana and other states, the medical malpractice damages caps can interfere with the necessary process of fair compensation. The egregious cases of inadequate compensation are widespread and can only be corrected by new legislation or constitutional rulings from the courts.

Source: madison.com, "Family sues Meriter over death after surgery by doctor who was fired", David Wahlberg, Aug. 16, 2016

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