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Court rules against states damages cap in malpractice case

When people hear of medical malpractice lawsuits in New York, they may be quick to dismiss them as money grabs be bitter patients who were not happy with their medical services. In reality, however, the potential for people to use such action as a vehicle to earn millions of dollars is often limited as many states put a cap on the amount of economic or non-economic damages one can be awarded in a malpractice lawsuit. While this may keep healthcare providers from having to pay inordinate amounts for their malpractice insurance coverage, the ones who may really suffer from such legislation are those patients whose issues warrant significant compensation.

It was that same line of thinking that prompted an appellate court in Wisconsin to deem the state’s malpractice awards cap as unconstitutional. The decision came as a result of hearing the case of a woman who presented to the hospital with a Strep A infection that went undetected. It ultimately led to septic shock, which that she have all four of her limbs amputated.

She was originally awarded $8.8 million by a jury to cover her medical cost and an additional $16.5 million for hers and her family’s pain and suffering. Wisconsin’s cap on non-economic damages in malpractice cases, however, is $750,000. The appellate court, however, ruled that such a cap only affects patients who are severely injured, limiting the amount they can collect to the same as that of those only moderately injured.

To hear that the entirety of one’s expenses related to his or her care and mental anguish may not be covered in a medical malpractice case may be disheartening. However, one still may be able to make a successful argument to receive sufficient compensation if he or she has the assistance of a skilled attorney.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “Wisconsin’s cap on medical malpractice awards unconstitutional, court rules” Wood, Rick, July 06, 2017

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