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Non-Economic Caps are Wrong in Medical Malpractice Cases

Damage caps are WRONG.

Non-economic caps are especially wrong in medical malpractice cases.

Today, I had to break the news to a 70 year old veteran that his case had very limited value. The VA literally ignored a growing squamous cell skin cancer. Rather than a minor skin procedure, he ended up with massive surgery on his neck and jaw. He now has serious lymphedema issues. He has issues using one of his arms. He's in pain and uncomfortable. Other problems too - all related to this delayed diagnosis and treatment.

The veteran's condition is permanent. He will live with it the rest of his life. There is no fix.

This man was retired, so he lost no earnings. The VA paid for his medical bills so there is no claim for that either. The applicable cap is it.

Even in a jurisdiction with a non-economic cap as high as $500,000, it's hard for cases with no economic damages to be viable ones. If the case gets settled, the agency is not going to pay the full cap. By the time you take out attorneys fees and costs, the client does not get much compensation for a significant and permanent life impairing injury. If you have to litigate or, worse, end up trying the case, it's far more problematic - even if you win.

When you look at places with caps as low as $250,000, the unfairness is compounded exponentially.

Because our FTCA practice is nationwide and the FTCA incorporates the substantive law where the tort took place, we deal with these issues all the time. We have for over 20 years.

So many of our clients are retired veterans. Such limits have the effect of valuing their lives cheaply. That's so wrong, just wrong.

Non-economic damage caps don't solve any alleged "crisis" relating to medical malpractice issues. They do punish severely patients and families who are harmed by deficient medical care.



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