Bill Introduced In Wisconsin Would Increase Cap On Noneconomic Damages In Medical Malpractice Cases To $3M

On January 28, 2022, 2021 Assembly Bill 924 was introduced in Wisconsin “to amend 655.017, 893.55 (4) (b) and 893.55 (4) (d) 1.; and to repeal and recreate 893.55 (1d) of the statutes; relating to: recovery of noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases” in order to “increase[] the current law limit on noneconomic damages for injuries resulting from medical malpractice by establishing a limit of $3,000,000 on noneconomic damages for each occurrence of medical malpractice.”

Under current Wisconsin law, for each occurrence on or after April 6, 2006, the total noneconomic damages recoverable for bodily injury (including any action or proceeding based on contribution or indemnification and any action for a claim by a person other than the injured person for noneconomic damages recoverable for bodily injury) is limited to no more than $750,000 from all health care providers and all employees of health care providers acting within the scope of their employment and providing health care services who are found negligent and from the injured patients and families compensation fund. The proposed bill changes that limit to $3,000,000 for cases involving acts or omissions occurring after the bill goes into effect.

The proposed Bill states: “The objective of the treatment of this section is to ensure affordable and accessible health care for all of the citizens of Wisconsin while providing adequate compensation to the victims of medical malpractice. Achieving this objective requires a balancing of many interests. The legislature finds that the limitation of $3,000,000 represents an appropriate balance between providing reasonable compensation for noneconomic damages associated with medical malpractice and ensuring affordable and accessible health care.”

Source

The justification for the present lower cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases in Wisconsin is stated in 893.55 “Medical malpractice; limitation of actions; limitation of damages; itemization of damages.”:

(1d) (a) The objective of the treatment of this section is to ensure affordable and accessible health care for all of the citizens of Wisconsin while providing adequate compensation to the victims of medical malpractice. Achieving this objective requires a balancing of many interests. Based upon documentary evidence, testimony received at legislative hearings, and other relevant information, the legislature finds that a limitation on the amount of noneconomic damages recoverable by a claimant or plaintiff for acts or omissions of a health care provider, together with mandatory liability coverage for health care providers and mandatory participation in the injured patients and families compensation fund by health care providers, while compensating victims of medical malpractice in appropriate circumstances by the availability of unlimited economic damages, ensures that these objectives are achieved. Establishing a limitation on noneconomic damage awards accomplishes the objective by doing all of the following:

1. Protecting access to health care services across the state and across medical specialties by limiting the disincentives for physicians to practice medicine in Wisconsin, such as the unavailability of professional liability insurance coverage, the high cost of insurance premiums, large fund assessments, and unpredictable or large noneconomic damage awards, as recognized by a 2003 U.S. congress joint economic committee report, a 2003 federal department of health and human services study, and a 2004 office of the commissioner of insurance report.
2. Helping contain health care costs by limiting the incentive to practice defensive medicine, which increases the cost of patient care, as recognized by a 2002 federal department of health and human services study, a 2003 U.S. congress joint economic committee report, a 2003 federal government accounting office study, and a 2005 office of the commissioner of insurance report.
3. Helping contain health care costs by providing more predictability in noneconomic damage awards, allowing insurers to set insurance premiums that better reflect such insurers’ financial risk, as recognized by a 2003 federal department of health and human services study.
4. Helping contain health care costs by providing more predictability in noneconomic damage awards in order to protect the financial integrity of the fund and allow the fund’s board of governors to approve reasonable assessments for health care providers, as recognized by a 2005 legislative fiscal bureau memo, a 2001 legislative audit bureau report, and a 2005 office of commissioner of insurance report.
(b) The legislature further finds that the limitation of $750,000 represents an appropriate balance between providing reasonable compensation for noneconomic damages associated with medical malpractice and ensuring affordable and accessible health care. This finding is based on actuarial studies provided to the legislature, the experiences of other states with and without limitations on noneconomic damages associated with medical malpractice, the testimony of experts, and other documentary evidence presented to the legislature.
(c) Based on actuarial studies, documentary evidence, testimony, and the experiences of other states, the legislature concludes there is a dollar figure so low as to deprive the injured victim of reasonable noneconomic damages, and there is a dollar figure at which the cap number is so high that it fails to accomplish the goals of affordable and accessible health care. The legislature concludes that the number chosen is neither too high nor too low to accomplish the goals of affordable and accessible health care, is a reasonable and rational response to the current medical liability situation, and is reasonably and rationally supported by the legislative record.

If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of medical negligence in Wisconsin, you should promptly find a Wisconsin medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a Wisconsin medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in Wisconsin, or in your U.S. state, who may assist you.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, February 5th, 2022 at 5:20 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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