Monday, August 24, 2009

Caps On Damages In Lawsuits--Be Careful What You Wish For...

A few years back, I represented an absolutely wonderful man who was catastrophically injured in a trucking collision. After years of litigation, we were able to settle his claim to make sure all of his future medical needs were taken care of.

I still keep in touch with him and we spoke the other day. He informed me that one of his recent medications cost $4,000 for a two week prescription. That's not a typo. He told me: "I don't know what we would have done without the settlement."

At the time of his settlement, there were no "caps" or limits on what he could recover in his lawsuit. As of 2005 in Ohio, now there ARE caps on what innocent victims can recover in any personal injury lawsuit, whether it is an injury due to malpractice, a drunk driver, or a truck driver who never should have been behind the wheel. If these caps were in place, I doubt he would have been able to afford this medication.

Recently, medical groups and insurance companies have been pushing a national cap on damages in medical lawsuits as part of health care "reform." What many people don't realize is that these proposed caps apply in cases where the injured victim is 100% innocent and when the medical provider committed indusputable malpractice. No exceptions. Essentially, these groups are saying: if you're maimed or in a wheelchair, your individual rights must be sacrificed for the good of the whole.

Gee, this sounds like....hmmm...."socialism?" You bet. The lesson: be careful what you wish for. You may just get it. And when you do, you'll be saying what a lot of Ohioans are asking me now: "why are we as innocent victims who did nothing wrong having our recovery arbitrarily capped--the only party benefitting from this are the insurance companies!"


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