Oregon Legislature Considers Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages

Representative Jim Thompson (R-Dallas) has proposed two medical liability reform bills. The Oregon House Health Care Committee recently considered both of the bills.

The first bill, HB 3228, seeks to reduce the cost of health care by placing a stringent limit on the damages medical malpractice victims can receive. Rep. Thompson reasons that this would lower the price of malpractice insurance for doctors, among other cost reductions.

The limit of $500,000 would apply to noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages cover pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of companionship. Noneconomic damages are a jury’s way of compensating a victim for intangible harms caused by medical malpractice.

The second bill introduced by Rep. Thompson is HB 3519, which would establish panels to review medical malpractice claims before they are allowed to go to trial. Potential litigants would be required to submit testimony and evidence before their cases went to court.

Medical Malpractice Damage Caps Are Not the Answer

Medical malpractice caps are part of a larger movement called tort reform. While advocates of tort reform often have the ultimate goal of reducing American’s health care costs, they would do so at the expense of people whose lives have been altered by poor medical care.

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be quite expensive to launch. Typically, a large amount of detailed evidence must be gathered and interpreted, and medical experts may be needed to explain the evidence to the jury. All of this can add up to a significant sum. A cap on a victim’s damages award that is too low may ensure that an attorney cannot afford to take the case – and that it is not worth it to the victim to go through a trial. This cheats the victim out of his or her day in court.

No consistent evidence exists that medical malpractice caps lower the insurance premiums of health care providers. In addition, some people feel that the potential for larger awards for victims of medical malpractice can bring much-needed caution into health care practices.

Speak With an Attorney

If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical malpractice, speak with an experienced Oregon medical malpractice lawyer. Find out what you can do to get your day in court.