June 18, 2011

On June 16, 2011, the North Carolina Senate passed a bipartisan “reform” that establishes a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. The North Carolina Senate put a spin on the newly imposed limitation on fully compensating North Carolinians for their losses caused by negligent health care providers by claiming that the cap “will help attract new jobs and high quality medical personnel and make health care more affordable and accessible for all North Carolinians.”

Will highly competent and non-negligent health care providers really move to North Carolina to practice medicine simply because of the cap? It is probably more likely that less qualified and less competent providers would be attracted to move to North Carolina due to the cap because their negligent treatment of their patients won’t cost them as much. The argument for the cap doesn’t make sense just like the observation that amputating a patient’s wrong limb helps the patient lose weight…

The cap shifts the burden (the costs) from the negligent health care providers to the state and federal governments (that is, the rest of us) because a less than fully compensated victim of medical malpractice who can no longer work and needs substantial lifetime medical care will need public assistance (that is, taxpayers’ money) for those costs and expenses that would otherwise have been paid by the insurance company for the negligent health care provider. When will we wake up and realize that subsidizing negligent health care providers is money coming out of our own pockets?

When will North Carolinians and others subjected to the arbitrary and mean-spirited loss of the long-standing and previously well-entrenched right to be fully compensated for losses caused by another’s misdeeds rise up and fight for what has been taken away from them without adequate justification? When did we cede to our elective officials the authority to award special immunity to people who commit wrongful actions at the expense of innocent victims? How did the cash-rich insurance industry and the powerful health care lobby convince us that it is in our own best interest to forfeit our rights and our dignity to the few medical miscreants who failed to provide care up to the minimum standard that the medical field itself established and whose failure to perform to minimum standards caused injuries to innocent victims? When did our country’s moral compass move away from leading us along the righteous path of protecting the rights of the less powerful masses to the cold, calculated, and compassionless goal of protecting profits of the powerful instead of protecting people?

All of us were taught as children growing up that we need to take full responsibility for the consequences of our own mistakes. We were told to not blame others for our own inadequacies.We were taught that personal integrity and personal responsibility were the qualities of a good citizen. We were taught that how we reacted to adversity was a measure of our character.

But now North Carolinians and others who are ensnarled by “tort reform” limitations on recoverable damges are subject to a new reality that personal responsibility is illusionary and too costly to those who commit the wrongs. Our elected representatives have seen fit to shift the consequences for causing injuries to others from the wrongdoer to the victim. Our politicians have decided the maximum dollar value of a person’s life and they have demeaned each of us by passing laws that say that we, the people, are incapable to determine on our own (by the decision of  juries) the losses that our brethren have sustained based on our own life-long experiences, our common sense, and the evidence of the losses provided to us during trials.

Wake up, America! “Tort reform” allows our government to put its hands in the pockets of its citizens in order to protect the assets and high incomes of the powerful.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to medical malpractice, you still have rights (although more limited than in the past) to be compensated for your injuries and damages. Visit our website to be connected to medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to help you with your medical malpractice claim. Or call us toll free at 800-295-3959.