HR 1215 is a bill that absolutely does not do what its name says. In fact, if it were to pass it would only hurt consumers because it places a cap on the amount of non-economic damages a plaintiff could receive in any kind of healthcare-related lawsuit. If you should sustain a serious injury from a medical malpractice incident, or due to a defective medical device that has been implanted into your body and needs to be removed and replaced, or if you have suffered a disabling injury due to a defective drug, you might file a lawsuit against the at-fault party for financial compensation for your injuries. After all, the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees your right to jury trial in civil cases.
However, the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 seeks to eliminate class actions for healthcare-related lawsuits; it would make all healthcare claims federal cases, which bypasses state laws, and in cases where the plaintiff wins the case, the insurance company can pay the settlement or verdict in installments rather than in a lump sum payment. For more information about H.R. 1215 in general, we invite you to read about it here.
The damages caps in HR 1215 hurt victims more
One of the most harmful provisions in HR 1215 is the $250,000 cap that it would place on non-economic damages a plaintiff can collect in a healthcare-related lawsuit. Regardless of the degree of harm done through the negligence of a doctor, a dangerous drug or a defective medical device, Sec. 4. (b) says: “In any health care lawsuit, the amount of noneconomic damages, if available, shall not exceed $250,000, regardless of the number of parties against whom the action is brought or the number of separate claims or actions brought with respect to the same injury.”
The effects will be devastating. In a birth injury case where an otherwise healthy infant suffered a brain injury due to medical negligence, or a woman dies of cervical cancer because the lab misread her test results, or the misdiagnosis and failure to treat an eye disease that left twin boys blind – under HR 1215, each would get no more than $250,000 in non-economic damages.
We ask you to consider: how much is your baby’s development worth? How much is your child’s eyesight worth? How much is your mother’s life worth?
How much is your own life worth?
Non-economic damage caps allow victims and their families to find a new way forward after their lives have been irreparably altered. They ensure that no one loses their home, or cannot access additional treatments they need later. Damage caps hurt victims more.
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in America
Each year in the U.S. about 440,000 patients die from preventable medical errors per the Journal of Patient Safety. Medical error is the third leading cause of death, behind cancer and heart disease, in the United States, yet medical negligence lawsuits account for a mere one-half of one percent of health care costs according to the Congressional Budget Office. It is a myth that medical negligence cases are what is dragging down the healthcare system. This bill, which amounts to federal tort reform, which will eliminate consumers’ rights to obtain civil justice from local juries.
There is no good news for healthcare consumers in HR 1215. Even if you are not currently pursuing legal action for an injury caused by medical malpractice or a defective drug or medical device, we hope that you can see how we cannot allow this bill to pass. It would erode consumers’ rights and richly reward the major corporations that are harming the consumers that make their existence possible.
At McGowan, Hood & Felder, we urge you to take a moment and make your voice heard to your Congressional representatives. Tell them to vote “No,” on HR 1215, the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017.
Doctors are human beings who make mistakes, but when your health or your life hangs in the balance there is no room for error. If you suffer a serious injury caused by a preventable medical error, you may be able to take legal action against the doctor and hospital for your injuries. You are encouraged to contact our experienced South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys who are prepared to evaluate your case and fight for the compensation you deserve. Call 888-302-7546 or complete our contact form today for a free consultation right away.