In Wisconsin, victims of medical negligence have their damages capped. According to Wisconsin Statute section 893.55, a victim may receive no more than $750,000 in compensation for non-economic losses after a medical mistake has occurred. This means if a jury awards a victim of medical negligence $1 million in compensatory damages, this award will be reduced to $750,000.
While victims can still be compensated with the help of a skilled attorney, the cap on damages significantly limits their right to fully recover for their losses. A medical mistake can have a catastrophic effect on a person’s life, changing his quality of life significantly.
In some cases, victims can be left permanently disabled, injured or with a much worse prognosis for a serious disease because a doctor made an error. These victims should be entitled to receive the full amount obtainable through a court trial or settlement negotiations with the help of a Janesville injury lawyer. Arbitrary damage caps set by the legislature should not determine what the victim deserves.
Tort Reform Harms the Health Care System
While it is clear that tort reform damages individual malpractice victims, the Huffington Post also reports that it does much more than that. Despite claims that limiting malpractice damages will improve the health care system, the reality is that studies show that patient care is not as good in situations where damage caps are in place.
Those who argue that tort reform is a good thing typically suggest that limiting damages will improve health care because it will bring more doctors to the area, eliminate the incentive for unnecessary treatments administered just to avoid potential liability, and will lower health care costs because malpractice insurance won’t be so expensive.
Reality does not support these arguments. Several studies show that the opposite is true. For example, according to a Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper, patient safety indicators show that patient care and health outcomes are not as good in situations where there are damage caps. Patient safety indicators used to assess outcomes included things like whether infections developed after operations or patients acquired pneumonia or other health problems while in a hospital.
Another Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper on defensive medicine (treatments to prevent malpractice claims) found that there was nothing to suggest tort reforms limit health care costs. The lack of savings from damage caps was also confirmed in a New England Journal of Medicine study.
Finally, a paper from University of Illinois researchers revealed that the number of doctors in a state was not increased by damage caps, with the exception of more plastic surgeons coming to that state.
Since study after study demonstrate none of the promised benefits to damage caps, and many unintended and harmful consequences, it seems clear that unnecessarily limiting the rights of medical negligence victims is not necessarily a good policy decision. It is important for victims to get as much compensation as they can for serious injuries, and a Janesville personal injury attorney can help.