On June 20, 2012, New Hampshire’s Governor John Lynch vetoed the nation’s first “early offer” bill that would have made medical malpractice victims responsible to pay the legal fees of defendant health care providers if they rejected an “early offer” to settle their claims but a medical malpractice jury did not award them much more in damages. The “early offer” proposal was pushed by hospitals and their lobbyists as a method of getting money in the hands of medical malpractice victims sooner and without the need for a medical malpractice trial.
New Hampshire Governor John Lynch wrote in his veto message, ““I believe that the Legislature’s efforts to fashion a balanced, reasonable early offer program should continue. It needs more work in order to adequately protect the interests of injured patients.”
While one New Hampshire senator who supported the “early offer” bill said that the bill could result in reduced medical malpractice insurance premiums for doctors, especially for medical specialists, another New Hampshire senator stressed the unfairness of the provision for injured victims of medical malpractice.
Interestingly, the two largest medical malpractice insurance companies in New Hampshire that are responsible for 47% of the medical malpractice insurance policies issued to New Hampshire medical providers opposed the “early offer” bill, stating that the early offer program would actually increase medical malpractice insurance premiums in New Hampshire.
Who would be solely victimized by early offer laws such as the one proposed in New Hampshire? The answer is simple but exact: the innocent victims of medical malpractice. If those who suffered debilitating and devastating permanent injuries and losses due solely to the failure of their medical providers to meet the minimum level of care required by the applicable standard of care established by their colleagues are required to pay the large legal fees incurred by the negligent medical providers that the victims of medical malpractice neither incurred nor controlled if the medical malpractice jury for some reason failed to award damages above some amount that the victims did not control, then those who suffered as a result of medical malpractice are victimized twice through no fault of their own, but this time by the law the protects the negligent medical providers at the expense of their innocent injured patients.
You must also ask yourself this important question regarding early offer proposals: if medical malpractice insurance companies admit that early offer laws would actually increase, not decrease, medical malpractice insurance premiums paid by medical providers, why would hospitals and their lobbyists push for such laws and why would legislators support such laws that penalize the very people who elected them into public office?
If medical malpractice has impacted your life, the advice of a local medical malpractice attorney may be essential to protect your legal rights and your financial interests.
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