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Illinois Supreme Court Overturns Damages Cap in Medical Malpractice Matters

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2010 | Blog, Uncategorized |

You’ve heard me blog on this before, despite the fact that I’m an employment lawyer, about the nonsense from the insurance industry on the medical malpractice ‘crisis.’ The insurance liars use doctors and nurses as unwitting pawns to spread lies about how “tort reform” is going to drive down medical malpractice costs.

You’ve heard me tell you that the statistics do not defend this position, and that 90,000 people a year suffer as a result of preventable medical errors.

You’ve heard me tell you about how only 8% of malpractice which actually occurs ever enters a court room, and how only a fraction of those cases result in a positive verdict for plaintiffs.

You’ve heard me tell you that the real reason insurance costs rise for doctors is because insurance companies raise their prices; there’s no control imposed by gutless legislative bodies, because insurance industries contribute so much money to their campaigns on both sides of the aisle. You’ve also heard me tell you that one of the reasons that insurance costs have risen across the board for all professions is because, since 9/11, and as a result of the bad economy, the insurance industry as a whole – including the interconnected portions of it that are part of the medical malpractice writing group – are trying to spread their risk around and make everyone pay.

All that aside, they never stop, because why should they? As long as there’s a tight economy and legislatures are responsive to “doom and gloom” predictions of lost jobs, insurance executives and their lap dogs will always seize an opportunity to erode the rights of the individual.

Yet finally, some common sense seems to be prevailing.

In Illinois, the short sighted legislatures passed a “cap” on medical malpractice damages, as if to suggest that someone whose life is devastated or lost by a medical mistake may only recover a tiny portion of their losses because the “poor, poor doctors,” driving in their Mercedes from one of their homes to the other, can’t afford the “high” cost of medical malpractice premiums. Better to assist the doctors by capping damages – which in fact doesn’t assist the doctors at all, but instead assists the insurance companies – then actually making the doctors stop making the mistakes, or by making the insurance companies lower their rates.

The Supreme Court of Illinois has said “no” to that nonsense in a recent decision. The Center for Constitutional Litigation argued that the “cap” on medical malpractice damages imposed by the legislature usurped the function of the judiciary and with it, the function of the jury. The Supreme Court of Illinois agreed, halting, for now, the march of corporate and insurance greed.

I almost feel sorry for the doctors, because I know that within their particular field of science, they are very bright people. You would have to have been to have gotten through medical school. With that brightness, however, can sometimes come arrogance, because out of their element, they are no more knowledgeable about the way the insurance companies work than “Joe the plumber” or “Dan the ditch digger”.

The doctors and nurses are being lied to by their carriers. They are being told that their rates will come down if only jury verdicts are forced down. Of course, the rates will never lower even if the caps are imposed, because the insurance industry is going to find another reason why the rates have to stay high “for now” until more changes to their liking are made in the fabric of our society.

It’s un-American and it ain’t right.

The insurance industry as a whole and, particularly, the medical malpractice insurance lobby, are lurking muggers on the “journey to justice.”

That’s all for now.