Just a few months ago, the Louisiana’s House Civil Law and Procedure Committee sought to take an “all-encompassing look” at laws that govern malpractice in the state. This intended action effectively put a hold on a pair of measures that would increase Louisiana’s $500,000 economic damage medical malpractice cap. For the rest of the state’s 2017 legislative regular session, the bills will not be addressed for passing, instead, they will be reviewed out of session in a broader context.
What Would HB 526 Change for You?
Lawmakers and stakeholders in the 2 bills, including physicians and personal injury attorneys, will look over House Bill 526 and House Bill 51, to determine if the issues raised in the measures justify adjusting the cap on jury awards, which is currently $500,000. The bills raise many questions related to the necessity of changes in terms of a monetary cap and filing time.
HB 526 Would Extend Time to File Medical Malpractice Suit
Right now, plaintiffs have 12 months after the discovery of a medical malpractice incident to file their lawsuit. HB 526 would extend that filing time to 18 months. The measure would also increase the amount of time between the incident and the latest point of allowable filing, from 3 years to 5 years.
New Bill Addresses Cap on Medical Malpractice Awards
The bill would adjust the current cap on recoverable damages as well, getting rid of the cap in place right now of $500,000 with a $350,000 maximum awarded for non-economic damages. The cap would be replaced with a new maximum award that better represents the “actual cost of past and future medical care and related benefits.”
How Would Changes in the Medical Malpractice Cap and Filing Limits Play Out in the Real World?
Minden resident Corey Shadd’s grandmother died due to a misdiagnosis. He testified in favor of the new legislation, stating that the current medical malpractice cap is 43 years old and needs to be changed.
Shadd equates medical malpractice with the need to return something defective from a department store. He reasons that when you bring back a broken product, you’re refunded in full for the actual price you paid. However, there are often far more dire consequences of a defective “product” when it comes to medical malpractice, well beyond the original price of the procedure.
Rep. Tanner Maggee (R-Houma) has concerns about Shadd’s suggestion that there should be no time limits on demanding compensation for what is essentially a faulty service. Maggee questions Shadd’s insinuation that:
- Time constraints on filing are “stringent”
- A change to the cap on recoverable damages is needed
HB 526 would also alter the current medical review panel’s makeup. Current law states that the panel’s reviewers must come from the same specialty or class as the defendant doctor. The new measure would limit the panel to just one specialist and it would ensure that no other members are people that the physician went to school with or live near (within a 100-mile radius).
Current Medical Malpractice Cases Aren’t Impacted
Until any bills are passed, Louisiana’s medical malpractice award and filing time caps remain the same. To understand how a change in these caps would affect any litigation that may be currently ongoing should the measure’s pass, it’s best to speak directly with your attorney.
Right now, the introduction of the bills and the Committee’s delay serve to bring attention to matters that many think deserve greater investigation. But, until anything changes, plaintiffs in Louisiana medical malpractice cases are subject to laws that do include strict filing times and award limits.
If you feel you have a medical malpractice case that you would like a Personal Injury Attorney to look into, fill out the contact form on this page and someone from the office of Tony Tramontana Law will be in touch with you promptly.
Video courtesy of Nola.com.