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Damages caps, other tort reform measures important to consider in med mal litigation, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the topic of tort reform, noting the fact that many states have passed limitations on non-economic damages. As we mentioned, Maryland has passed its own limitation on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. As part of tort reform efforts, Maryland has also passed pre-filing requirements, including pre-suit arbitration.

Pre-suit arbitration and other such requirements are aimed at helping courts to determine the merits of a medical malpractice complaint and to resolve disputes outside trial, when possible. While these pre-filing requirements have, according to supporters, discouraged plaintiffs from brining non-meritorious claims, some have pointed out that plaintiffs' attorneys have found a way to circumvent the rules through careful pleading of their complaints in court.

Two such cases are currently moving through the Maryland court system. It remains to be seen what will become of the cases, and whether medical malpractice plaintiffs may lawfully take advantages of alternative approaches to pursuing their medical malpractice claims in court going forward.

At the federal level, tort reform efforts have slowed down in recent weeks, despite initial enthusiasm among supporters. One bill still under consideration, known as the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, would put a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages in lawsuits involving health care provided or subsidized by the federal government. The bill would, however, protect medical malpractice tort reforms at the state level. It remains to be seen whether the measure will pass, and the extent of the impact it would have on medical malpractice litigation.

For those who are harmed by a negligent physician, of course, it is critical to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to build the strongest possible case. This includes building a sound case not only for liability, but also for damages. A skilled attorney will help a patient to seek the best possible resolution of his or her case as efficiently as possible.

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