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Bill would make winning malpractice suits more difficult

A bill sponsored by Republicans in the House of Representatives would make it more difficult for older Americans and low-income people to win medical malpractice lawsuits. This could include those based on defective medical devices or drugs. This is part of their plan to replace President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

The bill would put new limits on the noneconomic damages, capping them at $250,000. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering. Some states already have this cap in place. Under the bill, states could also increase the cap.

According to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, this bill will limit "frivolous lawsuits that unnecessarily drive up health care costs." The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office states that the bill would save almost $50 billion over a decade on the federal budget deficits. Democrats, though, say that people who use federal health programs would have their rights taken away.

There would be no limit on the amount of economic damages a plaintiff could collect, such as for medical bills and lost wages.

The bill also says if a doctor prescribes a medical device or drug that the Food and Drug Administration has approved, cleared or licensed, the doctor cannot be named as a defendant in a product liability lawsuit against the seller or manufacturer of the medical device or drug. Pharmacists would also be provided similar protections.The bill would also limit the amount that lawyers could collect in contingency fees.

If you have been injured due to a doctor's error or hospital negligence, an attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases can help you determine the amount of damages you can seek.

Source: The New York Times, "G.O.P. Bill Would Make Medical Malpractice Suits Harder to Win," Robert Pear, April 15, 2017

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