Yet again new federal legislation is attempting to “reform” the medical malpractice system in a way that will do nothing but insulate big business at the expense of malpractice victims. The latest attempt takes the form of H.R. 5-legislation identical to a proposed bill from the last Congress. If passed it would have severe consequences on all Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits.
The same debunked claims about “cost savings” are being put forward by proponents of the legislation. However, as the American Association for Justice pointed out, the money spent on legal defense in medical malpractice lawsuits is drastically exaggerated. In addition, all reasonable estimates reveal little to no actual savings in health care can be created by limiting patients’ legal rights. Those arguments act as nothing more than a smokescreen, raising false concerns in order to benefit big insurance and doctor interests at the expense of regular community members.
This latest bill is particularly troubling because of its large scope-it applies to medical malpractice claims, nursing home claims, and suits against insurance companies. It includes arbitrary caps on non-economic damages, and shortens the statute of limitations on many acts of negligence. It also eliminates joint and several liability and raises pleading standards.
These changes would essentially make it harder for victims to win cases and, even once they’ve been won, harder to collect the entire damage award reached by the jury. Many of these changes preempt state law, meaning that the federal government would be overriding the will of many states, forcing these unfair rules upon them.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti reject these misguided efforts to legally handcuff victims. An honest discussion about the 98,000 patients killed every year by medical malpractice can never been had if we keep running through the same old attempts to eliminate victim rights. We will continue to fight against big business efforts to shut regular Americans out of the process. The nation was founding on principles of equal access to justice made by a jury of the community. We cannot allow that system to be destroyed.
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