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Florida Joins Illinois in Overturning Caps in Medical Malpractice Payouts

Posted on in Medical Malpractice

Florida became the most recent state this month to overturn caps that limit payouts a person can receive in a medical malpractice suit. According to the Miami Herald and as reported in the Washington Post, the court found that “limits on payouts in some wrongful death suits violate both the federal and state constitutions.” Additionally, a 2007 report found that these types of caps not only resulted in unconstitutional rulings, but also in fewer and lower payouts in suits not defined by the caps. Caps on medical malpractice suits, according to the Washington Post, have been lifted in nine other states as of April 1.

The Illinois Supreme Court overturned caps on medical malpractice suits as far back as 2010, according to the New York Times, as one of the first states to do so. The court, according to the Times, decided that the 2005 law that allowed caps on medical malpractice payouts “violated the state Constitution's separation of powers clause by imposing decisions that should reserved for judges and juries.” The cap was not low, however—before the overturn, the cap was $500,000 “for non-economic damages in verdicts against doctors and $1 million in cases against hospitals.”

Issuing caps on medical malpractice payouts helps to keep the cost of malpractice insurance low, which in turn affects the cost of healthcare for consumers, reports the National Institute of Health (NIH). According to the NIH, caps were instituted as early as the mid-1970s in an attempt to avert the “spike in premiums and the lack of available malpractice insurance coverage.” These caps were sometimes adjusted for inflation over the years, and were “set at levels ranging from $200,000 to $500,000.”

Harold Jensen, chairman of a Chicago-based insurance company, told Crain's Business that caps expanded patient access to healthcare and ebbed “frivolous lawsuits.” According to an analysis published in the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, the state would do well to pass a Constitutional amendment that makes it lawful to reinstate caps on medical malpractice suits, as they are a successful way to control healthcare costs in the state.

If you or someone you know has been affected by caps on medical malpractice payouts in Illinois, the most important step is to seek the counsel of a medical malpractice attorney. Contact the law offices of Newland & Newland today for a free initial consultation.

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