The Iowa Legislature passed a medical liability reform law in 2016 that imposed a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases but excluded Iowa medical malpractice claims involving permanent disfigurement or death.
The present Iowa medical malpractice law states: “The total amount recoverable in any civil action for noneconomic damages for personal injury or death, whether in tort, contract, or otherwise, against a health care provider shall be limited to two hundred fifty thousand dollars for any occurrence resulting in injury or death of a patient regardless of the number of plaintiffs, derivative claims, theories of liability, or defendants in the civil action, unless the jury determines that there is a substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function, substantial disfigurement, or death, which warrants a finding that imposition of such a limitation would deprive the plaintiff of just compensation for the injuries sustained.”
The proposed bill would eliminate “unless the jury determines that there is a substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function, substantial disfigurement, or death, which warrants a finding that imposition of such a limitation would deprive the plaintiff of just compensation for the injuries sustained” from the statute, which would result in all Iowa medical malpractice cases subject to the $250,000 noneconomic damages cap.
The Iowa State Bar Association opposes the hard cap on noneconomic damages in Iowa medical malpractice cases:
“The Iowa State Bar Association opposes arbitrary caps on damages that can be awarded to an injured citizen, and as such opposes recently introduced bills SSB 3085 and HSB 596.
This legislation creates a cap of $250,000 on “non-economic damages” against a healthcare provider that is both arbitrary and punitive. A young child who is the victim of medical malpractice with an 80-year life expectancy will be limited to a $250,000 recovery. An 80-year-old with a five-or-six-year life expectancy would potentially be receiving the same amount in damages.
The ISBA has opposed caps on recovery consistently since 1975, because of the belief that every Iowa citizen should have an opportunity to have his or her case decided on its own merits. If damages are to be awarded, a jury of the parties’ peers should determine an appropriate award, based upon the actual facts of the case.”
An Iowa legislator who opposes the change in the law has stated, “A six year old child that is a victim of medical malpractice–you put a $250,000 price on that child. That’s ridiculous. Think about what you’re doing here. Think about the value of your child.”
If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of medical negligence in Iowa or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find an Iowa medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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