There’s some great news for all of us coming out of Missouri this week. The Missouri Supreme Court held that caps on non-economic damages are unconstitutional for cases involving medical malpractice.
A little background: Last year, in 2011, there was an important change in the law regarding medical malpractice cases in North Carolina and other states. The new law dramatically restricted the rights of NC residents who suffered injury due to an incompetent hospital, doctor, or nursing home.
Among the changes was a cap or limit on non-economic damages. What that means is that no matter how badly injured you are, how much pain and suffering you have gone through, no matter if your injuries are permanent and life-changing, you cannot recover more than $500,000 for the non-economic losses. This means that if a negligent doctor amputates the wrong leg, the patient won’t be able to recover for her significant pain, injury, and life changes.
The result of this and other changes in the medical malpractice law affect everyone’s ability to hold doctors and hospitals accountable for their bad acts. Aside from doctors and hospitals, the only folks who benefit from the non-economic damages caps are the insurance companies. The average person suffers…in more ways than one.
This is why we are happy to hear about the Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling that non-economic medical malpractice limits are unconstitutional. We applaud the court for exercising reason, good judgment, and compassion. And we sincerely hope that the North Carolina Supreme Court will take a similar reasoned and balanced approach when the NC laws passed last year get heard.
And on a closing note: This is why elections are so important, no matter how frustrating the process may seem. This autumn, we have the opportunity to elect people to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court positions. Find out what the candidates really stand for, and vote to keep your legal options open.