The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved on February 28, 2017 by a vote of 18 to 17 proposed federal legislation, H.R. 1215, that if passed by the full House and Senate and signed into law, would drastically harm medical malpractice victims throughout the United States by severely limiting their ability to seek and obtain fair compensation for the losses they suffered as a result of medical negligence.
H.R. 1215, entitled “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017,” states that it seeks “To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system.” H.R. 1215 promises “that the Federal deficit would be reduced by $62 billion over the next decade if Federal health care liability reforms were enacted.”
How would H.R. 1215 achieve the promised improvement in access to health care and the promised improvement in medical care? By imposing the claimed savings on the backs of innocent, unsuspecting medical malpractice victims and their families.
H.R. 1215 promises to “ensure that persons with meritorious health care injury claims receive fair and adequate compensation, including reasonable noneconomic damages” but does so by providing: “In any health care lawsuit, the amount of noneconomic damages, if available, shall not exceed $250,000, regardless of the number of parties against whom the action is brought or the number of separate claims or actions brought with respect to the same injury.” Hence, the most seriously injured medical malpractice victims would not be adequately compensated for their injuries.
H.R. 1215 also affects the ability of medical malpractice victims to find medical malpractice lawyers to represent them in their medical malpractice claims, by restricting attorneys fees and by injecting uncertainty into retainer agreements between medical malpractice victims and their medical malpractice attorneys: “… in any health care lawsuit in which the attorney for a party claims a financial stake in the outcome by virtue of a contingent fee, the court shall have the power to restrict the payment of a claimant’s damage recovery to such attorney, and to redirect such damages to the claimant based upon the interests of justice and principles of equity. In no event shall the total of all contingent fees for representing all claimants in a health care lawsuit exceed the following limits: (1) Forty percent of the first $50,000 recovered by the claimant(s). (2) Thirty-three and one-third percent of the next $50,000 recovered by the claimant(s). (3) Twenty-five percent of the next $500,000 recovered by the claimant(s). (4) Fifteen percent of any amount by which the recovery by the claimant(s) is in excess of $600,000.”
Additionally, H.R. 1215 provides: “In a health care lawsuit involving a minor or incompetent person, a court retains the authority to authorize or approve a fee that is less than the maximum permitted under this section.”
How many victims of medical malpractice throughout the United States will be able to obtain fair compensation from medical providers who fail to provide the required level of medical care that injures them if medical malpractice attorneys are unwilling to invest their time and advance the necessary litigation expenses associated with prosecuting medical malpractice claims because their agreed-upon attorney fee can be reduced by a judge after a medical malpractice recovery is obtained, or the attorney fee they charge for their time-intensive efforts is restricted to an amount that fails to justify the risk of earning a fair contingent fee when they agree to represent medical malpractice victims?
In short, the supply of medical malpractice lawyers will dry up if they cannot receive adequate compensation for their time and the enormous expenses they advance in representing medical malpractice clients. Without legal representation, many innocent and deserving victims of medical malpractice will be left without a legal remedy, thereby suffering further harm from medical negligence.
H.R. 1215 also imposes a federally-mandated statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims throughout the United States, which is more restrictive than in many U.S. states; repeals collateral source rules that in many states protect the rights of medical malpractice victims to be fully compensated for their losses; restricts medical malpractice victims from receiving lump-sum compensation for their losses and instead compensates victims over an extended period of time; repeals joint and several liability laws that in many states protect the rights of medical malpractice victims to be fully compensated for their losses; and, imposes a federally-mandated ban on hospitals, nursing homes, and others from being sued for prescribing unsafe drugs in claims against drug companies.
If you or a family member suffered serious harm (or worse) as a result of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click on the “Contact Us Now” tab to the right, visit our website, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in your state who may assist you.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.