Attorney Danny Cornell supports the Iowa Association for Justice in their mission to prevent the passage of legislation that would place a cap on the non-economic damages available in medical malpractice lawsuits.
HSB596 and SSB3085 are two bills proposed by the Iowa General Assembly that aim to limit the amount of compensation that can be recovered by the victims of medical negligence. Specifically, the bills would change a section of the existing law that expands the compensation limit for cases involving special circumstances.
There is currently a non-economic damage cap of $250,000. The maximum limit applies “unless the jury determines that there is a substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function, substantial disfigurement, or death, which warrants a finding that imposition of such a limitation would deprive the plaintiff of just compensation for the injuries sustained,” according to Senate File 465. The new bills propose a removal of this passage, so the $250,000 maximum would apply to all cases, regardless of the severity of injury and negligence.
Supporters of the bills claim that too many legal resources are applied to medical malpractice claims and that the litigation of these claims contributes to rising medical costs. Supposedly, the lawsuit caps will alleviate some of this strain on the legal and healthcare systems.
However, “only about 2% of all patients who have valid complaints of negligence actually bring claims, and only a fraction of these cases result in payment,” according to a Des Moines Register opinion piece from the president of the Heartland Health Research Institute, David P. Lind. The proposed bills also do not address the greater issue of why medical errors occur. The movement to halt the establishment of medical malpractice caps is headed by Accountable Iowa, a program created by the Iowa Association for Justice. Iowans who wish to express their opposition to HSB596 and SSB3085 can contact their state representatives.
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