On July 24th the Chicago Tribune published a letter from Illinois Trial Lawyers Association President Todd A. Smith that forcefully repudiated a July 9th editorial in the newspaper. The newspaper editorial had criticized an Illinois Supreme Court decision that struck down a law capping damages to medical malpractice victims. Mr. Smith made clear that the insurance reform was the only logical remedy to the insurance problem in the state.
Mr. Smith pointed out that the “crisis” of doctors fleeing the state because of skyrocketing insurance rates supposedly caused by medical malpractice verdicts of does not hold up when examining actual doctor retention stats. According to the American Medical Association, the numbers of doctors in Illinois has remained virtually static since 1945. The 2005 damages cap that was temporarily in place in Illinois had no effect on doctor retention.
In addition, the example of other states makes clear that insurance reform is the true remedy for problems of increased insurance premiums. In 1976 California did not see its medical malpractice premiums decrease in 1976 when an arbitrary damages cap was issued. But the premiums did drop when specific insurance reform was put into place in 1988.
Specifically, what is needed in Illinois is insurance reform that requires these large insurance companies to provide more open information on rate-setting and payout. The effect would be increased competition and ultimately lower premiums for doctors.
Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti have witnessed the devastation of entire families by negligent and at times abusive conduct at the hands of substandard medical care. Imposing random and often inadequate limits on damage verdicts would only weaken protections for injured patients suffering from doctor error without any noticeable change in the real issue: skyrocketing insurance rates.
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