North Carolina GOP Works To Limit Medical Malpractice Awards

Posted on Feb 24, 2011
With their newfound majority status in the House and Senate, North Carolina lawmakers are starting the year with a focus on reforming medical malpractice laws so that they better favor doctors, hospitals, and businesses – instead of medical error victims and their families. The new law would change the structure of medical malpractice trials and put a limit on non-economic damages, such as the loss of enjoyment of life.

Headed by Senate majority leader and Republican representative from Rockingham Phil Berger, the North Carolina GOP will work to cap medical malpractice awards for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, physical impairment, or loss of consortium. Though the bill has not been finalized, those working on the bill plan to cap non-economic damages at $250,000. In addition, the bill may encourage out-of-court settlements to save costs and spit medical malpractice trials into two parts.

Similar bills have been developed in the past in North Carolina, but democrats who side with accident victims and the attorneys who represent them have stopped such measures in the past. Republicans believe that doctors will be more likely to start businesses in North Carolina if the medical malpractice insurance premiums are lower, but Democrats argue that hospitals and doctors should take responsibility for their mistakes, especially when they leave patients with permanent disabilities, a lowered quality of life, or the trauma of the harmful event.

Other states that have already passed medical malpractice caps into laws are now dealing with lawsuits and judges who have ruled that med cal caps are unconstitutional.

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