This week we reported frequently on the lead up to the United States House of Representatives Energy subcommittee hearing related to H.R. 5-a medical malpractice piece of legislation. The Blog of Legal Times wrote a helpful overview of the committee hearing including discussion of the forceful testimony of those explaining the unnecessary and problematic proposals contained in the bill.
As most are aware, H.R. 5 imposes limits on contingent fee arrangements, caps on certain types of damages, pleading standard changes, statute of limitation modifications, and other measures that place barriers in the way of victims seeking legal relief.
Brian Wolfman, a visiting law professor at Georgetown University emphasized the problems with the bill. The professor explained how the free market should be allowed to work, without artificial micromanagement by the federal government. A client and possible attorneys are free to determine their personal contractual arrangement that best maximizes the client’s recovery interest and the lawyers’ compensation. The testimony also explained how a random, unchanging damage cap of $250,000 is a figure virtually pulled out of a hat, without any real basis in the impact it would have on the lives of medical malpractice victims.
One member of the committee, Representative Harry Waxman, explained how claims about the impact of tort reform bear little resemblance to the truth. He pointed out that in the first 13 years after his own state of California passed similar legislation, medical malpractice insurance premiums actually went up by 45%. Those rates only decreased after the state passed a law mandating a 20% premium rollback. In other words, insurance reform has been shown to work.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti will continue to monitor the development of this bill and similar misguided political efforts. The number of families that suffer following medical errors remains unchanged-there is no reason the law should be altered to take away the rights of that steady stream of victims. Be sure to stand up for your right to fair access to the legal system and contact an Illinois injury lawyer if you have been harmed in this way.
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