As we have frequently mentioned, a United States House of Representatives Energy subcommittee had a hearing this week related to H.R. 5-a medical malpractice piece of legislation. The Blog of Legal Times wrote an overview of the committee’s efforts. Of particular note, they provided a good summary of medical malpractice victim advocates’ testimony
The bill H.R. 5 would impose limits the private contractual relationship between lawyer and client, arbitrarily cap certain types of damages (nullifying jury decisions), alter pleading standards changes, and force upon states other barriers to the rights of medical victims to seek legal relief.
One of those testifying at the committee hearing was Brian Wolfman, a visiting law professor at Georgetown University. He emphasized the problems with the bill, including the infringement upon the private agreement between client and lawyer. The professor explained how the free market should be allowed to work, without artificial micromanagement by the federal government. His testimony also took issues with the unnecessary cap on damages. He explained how the $250,000 figure bears no relationship to the needs of medical malpractice victims or any other standardized, logical analysis. Instead, it is a random, low-ball figure that serves the interests of an insurance industry at the expense of all others.
During the hearing Representative Harry Waxman emphasized how claims about the impact of tort reform bear little resemblance to the truth. He used his own state as an example. In the first 13 years after California passed legislation with provisions similar to those in H.R. 5, medical malpractice insurance premiums actually went up by 45%. It took comprehensive insurance reform to actually influence insurance rates. The federal government would be wise to do the same.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti feel it is important to monitor the development of this bill. Thousands of American families continue to suffer the consequences of medical errors that should have been prevented. The law should support their legal rights to seek redress from a jury of their peers. Be sure to stand up for your right to fair access to the legal system and contact an Illinois injury lawyer if you have been harmed in this way.
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