Are Changes Upcoming for Missouri Medical Malpractice Law?

Are Changes Upcoming for Missouri Medical Malpractice Law?

The Missouri House of Representatives is scheduled to vote soon on a legislative bill that passed easily through the state’s Senate last week.

The bill that is now one step closer to being enacted as law is a tort reform measure that, ostensibly at least, is intended to lower insurance premiums by capping awards for persons injured through medical malpractice acts.

That will happen, say advocates for change, because insurance companies will charge less for coverage knowing that ceilings will be imposed on recovery amounts.

One commentator on the matter says that such a result will flatly not occur and that, rather, insurers will simply benefit monetarily from the change at the expense of individuals and families who suffer from medical negligence.

At one time, Missouri allowed malpractice damage caps, but the state’s Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional in 2012, stating that their imposition interfered with a jury’s discretionary powers and thus violated a victim’s constitutional right to an unfettered jury trial.

As stated, the Senate’s move last week seeks to reinstate ceilings. If caps are ultimately enacted as law, a victim’s non-economic damages will top out at $400,000.

A law professor at the University of Missouri says that the state legislature is essentially seeking to backdoor — that is, circumvent — the right to trial in personal injury matters by imposing the caps through a statutory enactment. He notes that “newly created statutory rights do not have the right to a jury trial.”

The recent cap-related developments underscore the changing and complex landscape that currently defines medical malpractice law in Missouri.

Any person injured through a malpractice act or omission and having questions or concerns relating to medical negligence can obtain knowledgeable information and aggressive legal representation from a proven plaintiffs’ malpractice attorney.

Source: KBIA, “Missouri Senate passes bill restricting medical malpractice damages,” Aaron Pellish, March 17, 2015

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