As America’s largest and most diverse organization of attorneys, it goes without saying that the American Bar Association (ABA) carries a great deal of clout when it weights in on legal issues. Recently, the organization has turned its attention to setting a limit for pain-and-suffering damages resulting from medical malpractice.
In recent months, the ABA went on record before Congress to state their reasons for opposing the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2016. In its letter to the House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr., the ABA outlined its concerns with the new bill.
Why the ABA Opposes a Cap on Pain-and-Suffering Damages
First, the ABA letter asserted that states have had the authority to determine medical liability for two centuries. As such, the ABA believes Congress should not ignore the systems that the states have created, which have evolved over the past 200 years.
Further, the letter took issue with a proposed cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits. Specifically, these “non-economic” damages refer to pain-and-suffering damages in medical malpractice cases. The ABA maintains that it opposes provisions that place a “dollar limit on recoverable damages and operate to deny full compensation” to patients in their medical liability cases. Additionally, these limits are made more egregious since the limits are uniquely designed to cap damages for the patients who have suffered the most from negligent medical malpractice.
According to the letter, the ABA argues that research proves that damage caps harm court access for low-wage individuals such as:
- The Elderly
When economic damages are needlessly limited, it becomes less likely these low-wage individuals will be adequately represented by an attorney in a medical malpractice case. The ABA also maintains that the new bill is wholly unnecessary since courts already have the power to set aside excessive jury verdicts. As such, the proposed bill will only needlessly harm individuals, given that the court system already has corrective powers to limit damages when needed.
Based on these concerns, the ABA believes keeping damage limits within the court’s discretion is a better solution than having Congress set an arbitrary cap on pain-and-suffering damages.
For the time being, expect the debate on pain-and-suffering caps to continue. If interested in the ongoing debate, however, you may read the ABA’s letter in its entirety.
Regardless of what the medical malpractice damage caps currently are or could be in the years ahead, Foley injury attorney Noel B. Leonard will always fight for his client’s right to receive deserved compensation. Noel B. Leonard will always advocate for his clients’s ability to receive the pain-and-suffering damages they are entitled to after suffering from medical malpractice.
From his Foley office, Noel represents medical malpractice victims in Foley as well as the residents of Baldwin, Mobile and Escambia Counties. If you need a medical malpractice injury attorney who advocates for your right to receive pain-and-suffering damages, contact Alabama injury attorney Noel B. Leonard or call 251-943-8638 for a legal consultation.