During the George W. Bush administration, so-called tort reform was a hot topic around the nation. There were various attempts to create national tort reform that didn’t work, but states around the country tried too, and in some cases were successful. One of those was Florida.
The 2003 bill, signed into law by then-governor Jeb Bush placed a cap of $500,000 on what are known as non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, and a cap of $1 million if the injuries caused by medical malpractice were what they called catastrophic.The main purpose of this bill was supposedly to reduce medical malpractice premiums. As our Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney can explain, very wealthy insurance companies have been raising premiums on all customers in recent decades, because that is simply what they do. This is true of most types of insurance, including health insurance for patients and medical malpractice insurance for hospital and doctors.
While the insurance companies may argue that they are losing money, their quarterly profit and loss statements show that is clearly not the case. They are raising prices because they can.
Through a lot of lobbying efforts, the insurance companies got certain politicians to work to cap damages in medical malpractice cases. This means that when a patient is injured and has a large pain and suffering award given by a jury, the amount will get slashed to the limits of the cap.
The theory was that this will cause medical insurance premiums to go down, and this will help doctors who supposedly could no longer afford to practice medicine. This wasn’t the case, as discussed in a recent news article from Space Coast Daily. Since the law took effect, medical malpractice premiums in Florida have increased to where they are the highest in the nation. Now that the state supreme court has rejected this tort reform law, they will probably go up again, because raising premiums is what insurance companies do.
The Florida Supreme Court found that this tort reform law violated the constitution, as it was arbitrary and capricious. It hurt plaintiffs who were seriously injured as a result of medical practice, and it did not lower insurance premiums as the law was allegedly intended to do. In fact, as we know, the premiums went up during this time.
This is not the first time the court had addressed this law. Three years ago, the portion of the law that capped damages in cases where the medical malpractice resulted in death of a patient was struck down, and this decision will serve to get rid of the rest of the law. Specifically, the court held that the arbitrary and capricious nature of the law violated the equal protection rights of patients who were injured as a result of the caps that tended to only serve the interests of the insurance company. This result should really come as a surprise to no one, because tort reform is generally just a gift to very wealthy insurance companies at the expense of personal injury victims.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
In 4-3 Decision, Florida Supreme Court Rules 2003 Tort Reform Law Unconstitutional, June 10, 2017, By Dr. James Palermo, Space Coast Daily
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