It hardly seems that a month goes by without the issue of caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases coming up. The hotly contested issue is raised frequently, and new bills are being considered even as some state courts are ruling that caps on damages are unconstitutional.

The Missouri Senate has just voted to approve a measure which would limit pain and suffering damages in most medical malpractice cases to $400,000. In cases of catastrophic injury, the cap on damages would be $700,000.

The interesting thing — Missouri actually had caps on damages in the past. A decade ago, Missouri attempted malpractice reform by lowering jury awards to mandated caps. But those limits were struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court in 2012. Nevertheless, the new bill is supported by Senate leaders who believe that the bill will reduce medical malpractice insurance rates, keep doctors from fleeing the state, and reduce incentives for frivolous lawsuits.

Bill sponsor, Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) has said that since the 2012 overturn of the previous caps, “we are now starting to see some of the effects on medical malpractice insurance premiums” as they begin to rise. Brown and other supporters argue that reinstating caps on damages will allow residents of the state to have better access to healthcare.

Meanwhile, opponents of the bill argue that it is unconstitutional as it will deprive an injured party of having a jury decide what should be an appropriate damage award.  The bill essentially ties the hands of jurors and judges, argue challengers of the bill. The bill will now go to the Missouri House for approval.

References

  1. Slavit M. (2015, March 13). “Malpractice bill considered unconstitutional.” Connect Mid Missouri. Retrieved from http://www.connectmidmissouri.com/news/story.aspx?id=1177383#.VRBWWOH9yLU
  2. Pellish A. (2015, March 13). “Missouri Senate Passes Bill Restricting Medical Malpractice Damages.” WBIA. Retrieved from http://kbia.org/post/missouri-senate-passes-bill-restricting-medical-malpractice-damages

All electronic resources were last accessed on March 23, 2015.