The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

March 13, 2014

Other Views: Rein in lawsuit awards

Rural Missouri, even more than our big cities, needs reasonable limits on the amount of money people can receive from medical malpractice claims.

To understand this is to place individual suits for damages in perspective. No limits on damage awards eventually will negatively impact everyone who needs reasonably priced health care and access to care, including such in-demand services as obstetrics and other medical specialties.

And let’s face it, these problems will be magnified in already underserved rural areas that scrape to find and retain physicians and other medical professionals.

Those are facts. Our opinion tracks closely with these realities.

First, anyone injured at the hands of a medical professional should expect to get every dime due to them for economic damages suffered. Among these entirely understandable and quantifiable claims are ones for the costs of past and future medical care, lost wages and expected losses of future earnings.

Second, a remedy also is needed for those persons who can establish they have suffered non-economic damages such as emotional distress or pain and suffering. But these hard-to-quantify losses require reasonable limits so as not to allow wildly erratic awards that on their face can seem both excessive and unfair.

In 2005, Missouri passed a successful reform law. In the seven years that followed, lawsuits against physicians dropped almost 58 percent, the state added nearly 1,000 doctors and liability insurance premiums fell $27 million, according to the Missouri State Medical Association.

That law, with a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages and no cap on economic damages, worked to drive down the cost of medicine and to encourage doctors to practice in our state — including in rural areas.

Our state Supreme Court two years ago struck down the previous cap on damages, but new legislation before the General Assembly seeks to reinstate the limits. We support this proposal because it both preserves access to justice for injured patients, while also preserving access to medical care.

— St. Joseph News-Press

1
Text Only
Opinion
Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

Do you plan on voting in the Aug. 5 elections being held in Missouri and Kansas?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
NDN Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Sports