Battle Rages To Increase California’s Malpractice Cap


Posted on 27th July 2013 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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A consumer watchdog group in California is fighting hard to let voters decide if the state’s cap on medical malpractice awards should be increased, and hopefully Californians will have the chance — and support upping the limit.

As explained by the Insurance Journal, the cap on pain and suffering awards on medical malpractice in California is only $250,000, a number set almost four decades ago, in 1975. Consumer Watchdog California says that just to keep pace with inflation, that cap should be increased to $1.1 million. The consumer group will start to collect the 750,000 signatures it needs on a petition to get the issue put on the ballot next year so voters can decide on raising the limit. according to the Insurance Journal.

Californians Allied for Patient Protection oppose any increase in the cap for non-economic damages. The coalition is armed with a 2010 study that claims that increasing the cap to $500,000 alone would end up in $9.5 billion is added costs a year to the state’s health care system, the Insurance Journal reported.

The drive to get the cap increased is being spearheaded by a man, Bob Pack, whose daughter, 7, and son, 10, were killed by a driver who was on drugs, became unconscious and then went off the road and hit them. Pack’s wife also lost the unborn twins she was carrying in the accident.

It’s no surprise that Pack wants to see some action taken after the horrendous loss he suffered. One of the things he is lobbying for is the requirement that doctors use CURES (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System) to access patient-abuse histories. according to the Insurance Journal. Consumer Watchdog maintains that doctors aren’t checking CURES, hence the rise in prescription drug addiction.

Of course, the California Medical Association and insurers are screaming about any plan to increase the current $250,000 cap on compensation for pain and suffering, blaming the effort on greedy lawyers. After all, they argue, currently there isn’t any limit on incurred medical expenses, future medical expenses and past and present lost wages. So there doesn’t need to be one on pain and suffering, they say.

Tell that to Bob Pack. Money won’t bring back his lost children and unborn twins. But shouldn’t he and his wife get adequate compensation for the pain and suffering they have endured? And shouldn’t a jury be able to decide whether they deserve more than $250,000, a number set decades ago?

Let’s hope California voters get a chance to decide in the voting booth what to do about the cap, and that they do the right thing.

New York Senator Lobbies To Get Rid Of Caps On Lawyer Malpractice Fees


Posted on 27th March 2011 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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The hot-potato topic of medical malpractice is stirring up controversy in New York State.

In this instance, the brouhaha is over an alleged conflict of interest on the part of state Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, who is chairman of the Finance Committee as well as serving “of counsel” for a medical-malpractice law firm, DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, according to the New York Post,

DeFrancisco has been supporting a bill that would abolish a cap on legal fees in medical malpractice cases, the Post reported.

Some watchdog groups claim that putting an end to limits on attorney contingency fees will cause malpractice-insurance premiums to skyrocket and will mean smaller payouts to patients. I think this is a kneejerk reaction.

New York Gov. Cuomo is advocating that there be  $250,000 cap on “pain and suffering awards,” which he claims will reduce malpractice costs by $700 million. Right now New York lawyers have caps on how much of their clients’ award they can keep.

Currently attorneys can get up to 30 percent of judgments below $250,000, the Post reported, but not any more than 10 percent of awards that are larger than $1.25 million. The bill that DeFrancisco supports would throw out those limits.