Many times we believe something simply because we have been told or heard it several times. An example would be that if you touch a baby bird its mother won’t take it back or maybe you’ve heard that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from space. Neither of these “facts” are true. Just like the “fact” that health care costs are skyrocketing in this country because doctors pay so much for medical malpractice is not true. The real fact is that most doctors’ malpractice insurance costs less than most people’s car insurance. Not to mention that the cost of medical malpractice insurance has been dropping, nationally, for about a decade.
Despite the widely held belief that medical malpractice claims are brought to court by money hungry lawyers who drag in frivolous law suits, medical malpractice suits are declining. Lawyers work on a contingent basis and don’t get paid unless they win, it would make no sense for them to waste their time and resources on a case that had no merit. Instead many medical malpractice injury clients have been harmed in a way that will affect the rest of their lives and they deserve compensation.
The fact is that statistics prove that there has been a 40 percent drop in the number of paid claims and a 29 percent drop in the total amount paid. If doctors are not being sued in record numbers than perhaps it is the hospitals, right? No, in a California study of financial records the average that hospitals paid for malpractice in 2003 was just over one percent of their total income.
Despite these findings legislatures in many states, like Virginia (VA), have created a law called a medical malpractice cap on the amount of money an injured person can recover. This is because the healthcare industry and insurance companies have very strong lobbyists. The medical malpractice cap law says, that no matter what harm is caused to a patient by a medical error, the patient or her family can only receive the cap maximum. In Virginia (VA) if a lawsuit for medical negligence goes to a jury and results in an award greater than the medical malpractice cap which is currently 2.1 million, then the judge will reduce what the jury thought was a reasonable verdict down to the cap. The medical malpractice cap does increases by $50,000 every year until it reaches 2.95 million in 2035. This law gives doctors and their insurers an advantage over consumers and patients that no other industry enjoys in Virginia. So the next time someone says that a medical malpractice cap is saving you money on your health insurance you can tell them they had better back up their “facts.”
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