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State takes steps to help doctors and patients by capping awards

In a move that is touted as helping both sides in medical malpractice suits, a state is closer to finalizing a bill that would limit monetary awards. Lawmakers stated that both doctors and patients will ultimately win by reducing the amounts of compensation except in the most appalling circumstances. While many states have applied these limits, New York currently does not have any set caps.

This state recently held votes in both houses in order to set limits on the majority of medical malpractice awards. The state seeks to limit the subjective portions of these lawsuits in an effort to reduce the amounts doctors are forced to pay for suffering and emotional pain. The ceiling for these awards is expected to be set at $250,000 except in the most appalling instances where a person has suffered grievous harm. It is hoped that setting these types of caps will have the desired effect of holding down both malpractice insurance rates for doctors and thereby keeping medical care costs down as well.

There were voices of dissent based on whether the need exists for these limits in Iowa, where jury awards have remained fairly reasonable throughout the past several decades. The proposed bill also includes a provision that requires a plaintiff's attorney to provide proof that a case qualifies as a malpractice lawsuit. One lawmaker expressed doubt that such a bill is needed in the state but deferred to the opinion of a doctor who confirmed that the bill would help both sides of the issue.

In other states where these caps exist, more providers have set up their practices. Since Iowa residents suffer from a lack of some speciality doctors, the state is hopeful that more providers will now choose to call the state home. Since New York does not have these types of caps in place, it is imperative that providers who find themselves facing a malpractice suit seek the most experienced defense attorneys in order to protect themselves from false claims and possibly outrageous compensation that could make maintaining a practice no longer fiscally feasible.

Source: insurancenewsnet.com, "Soft cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice gets bipartisan support in Iowa House", April 13, 2017

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