Caps on Medical Malpractice Claims May Hurt Claimants in New York

At our nation's capital, politicians battle over health care reform. In the midst of heated discussions, lobbyists with the health care industry - funded by large pharmaceutical companies, HMOs and the like - are pushing for medical malpractice caps. Health care providers, doctors and hospitals are protected by these caps, which limit the amount of money that injured patients who prevail in medical malpractice cases may be awarded.

Many states have already established laws in an attempt to limit the amount of damages awarded in medical malpractice cases. New York currently limits recovery to "reasonable compensation," which is applied to individual cases in order to stem runaway verdicts. However, a $250,000 cap proposed by the governor would affect all cases, regardless of the extent of injuries. Proponents of the law claim the caps prevent frivolous personal injury lawsuits, but lawmakers from other states are finding that legal loopholes are preventing many legitimate claims.

A university hospital and medical center in New York City is at the center of more than 100 active lawsuits for medical malpractice. At least a dozen of the lawsuits center on negligence claims involving the death of a patient. Last year, a national dental clinic chain was sued by a number of New York counties - including Schenectady County - for dental malpractice. The lawsuits seek damages from inappropriate and unsafe dental procedures performed on a number of New York children, claiming that children were frequently strapped to chairs and subjected to unnecessary dental work.

If recovery from these types of cases is capped, $250,000 is often insufficient to compensate gravely injured people or families of people who have died from negligence or wrongful acts. For some large health care providers, $250,000 is a mere slap on the wrist. If the award for a lawsuit is too small, the negligent party is not deterred from committing the same error again.

If you have been injured by someone's negligence or malpractice, find an attorney who is knowledgeable about personal injury cases. An experienced lawyer may help you obtain compensation for your losses.