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Due to the skyrocketing costs of medical malpractice insurance and its affect on patient's access to certain medical services, many experts have claimed that our nation is experiencing a medical malpractice crisis. This is not the first, but the third time the United States has gone through a medical malpractice crisis. In the past, such a crisis has prompted changes in medical malpractice laws. Most of these laws are aimed at reducing medical malpractice insurance premiums, however, some of these changes are aimed at revising or replacing the tort system altogether.
The tort system is the civil legal system through which a victim of medical malpractice (and/or their families) can file a lawsuit against the negligent medical professional to seek compensation for damages. Damages awarded through a medical malpractice case can include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include such things as out-of-pocket medical expenses, loss of wages, and the like. Non-economic damages include things like pain, suffering, loss of consortium, disability, and the like.
Due to the fact that settlements in medical malpractice cases often reach upwards of six and seven digit figures, medical malpractice insurance companies have begun to significantly increase the premiums medical professionals must pay for liability insurance. The cause of increased insurance premiums is a bit more complex than this, and all relate to the insurance industry itself independent of the legal component of medical malpractice.
Regardless of the exact cause, the increase in insurance premiums has caused a medical malpractice crisis. Particularly in high-risk medical fields like obstetrics and emergency care, the medical malpractice crisis has forced some doctors to stop offering certain medical services because they are either not able to afford insurance for these practices or do not wish to expose themselves to a potential liability risk.
The recent medical malpractice crisis has prompted a nationwide discussion of medical malpractice reform in both the insurance industry and the tort system. Depending on which side of the fence you sit, tort reform can be seen as good, bad, or a little of both. Some argue that the tort system needs to be replaced with a no-fault approach to compensation. Others argue that the tort system functions well and is necessary to protect the rights of seriously injured and aggrieved medical malpractice victims. Still others wish to see major changes in both the legal system and the insurance industry, such as restrictions on settlement awards, periodic payment options, tighter regulation on the insurance industry, and much more.
The current medical malpractice crisis is shrouded in complex controversy. What's important to the victims of medical malpractice is how the medical malpractice crisis is affecting their legal rights and options.
If you would like to learn more about the current medical malpractice crisis or to learn more about your legal rights and options, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help you.
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