Med-mal caps nothing more than a red herring: Industry transparency, market competition true source of insurance reform

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Yet again the Illinois Supreme Court has stepped in to correct the legislative wrong of arbitrarily capping non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

As has been widely reported, our Supreme Court in the case of Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital recently struck down monetary caps on jury verdicts for individuals harmed by the negligence of doctors and hospitals. The law capping damages against doctors at $500,000 and against hospitals at $1 million was unconstitutional, the court ruled, because it violated the separation of powers clause of the state constitution. Assessing the appropriate amount of a jury verdict is a judicial power, not legislative, according to the court. This is the third time since the 1970s our state’s highest court has overturned jury verdict caps as unconstitutional.

The monetary caps were part of an insurance reform law passed in 2005. But the Legislature included a provision that if one part of the law was overturned then the entire legislation would be void.

That’s unfortunate.

No one is saying doctors don’t have a legitimate gripe about expensive insurance policies, but putting arbitrary caps on damages in personal injury lawsuits is not the answer to their complaint. Jury verdict caps simply don’t have the intended effect of decreasing insurance rates and making health care more affordable.

Even worse, limits on jury verdicts are misguided because they deprive the most seriously injured patients of their legal rights.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Bruce Goodman, Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish | Attorney Advertising

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