gavel.gif (3462 bytes) Medical Malpractice Update

by Clifford A. Rieders, Esq.

    On March 20, Governor Schweiker signed into law a new medical malpractice bill. On March 13 the House and Senate passed an amended version of House Bill 1802 dealing with medical malpractice insurance. The Senate passed the bill 49-0 and then the House passed it by a vote of 196-1. 
    This bill deleted the House Amendments which had included both periodic payments for non-economic damages (pain and suffering) and joint and several liability. The Senate Bill contains no language on caps on economic or non-economic damages.
We will be circulating a more extensive legislative history to assist members, but the highlights of the Bill are as follows:
1. Establishment of a Patient Safety Authority. 
2. The CAT Fund will be phased out.
3. Reduction to present value. Future damages for loss of earnings or earning capacity shall be reduced to present value. Productivity and inflation allowed.
4. Periodic payments. Future medical and related expenses shall be paid by periodic payments after payment of attorney's fees and costs. (Applies to verdicts only.) Inflation may be considered. Periodic payments cease upon death.
5. Collateral source eliminated for benefits already paid.
6. Statute of repose of seven years, Minors Tolling Act preserved.
7. Venue commission established.
While we recognize that this bill diminishes some of the rights of our clients, the ability of victims of medical errors to seek compensation for their injuries has been preserved. 

For a more detailed analysis of House Bill 1802, click here.

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