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Bob Carroll
Bob Carroll
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A Schedule of Damages for Malpractice Cases?

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Michigan lawyer, Aaron Larson, blogging on The Stopped Clock, shoots down a proposal to create a schedult of damages for malpractice cases.

To his thoughts I would add my own: Why not focus on stopping the malpractice instead of reducing the compensation to its victims. If half as much effort were to be expended in improving the quality of patient care as is involved in creating “certainty and predictability to jury verdicts” there may very well not be a reason for a lawsuit in the first place.

Michigan lawyer, Aaron Larson, blogging on The Stopped Clock, shoots down a proposal to create a schedule of damages for malpractice cases.

“One of the stranger reform proposals I occasionally hear emerge from the medical circles is the notion of a “schedule of damages” for medical malpractice cases. This ostensibly would give greater certainty and predictability to jury verdicts in malpractice cases – rather than picking a number based upon the evidence and testimony presented at trial, jurors would be asked to match the plaintiff’s injuries to a schedule and award damages accordingly. Or perhaps they would simply be asked to itemize the plaintiff’s injuries, and the judge would apply the schedule.

It won’t fly.”

Aaron provides his thoughtful analysis of the proposal and its flaws.

To his thoughts I would add my own: Why not focus on stopping the malpractice instead of reducing the compensation to its victims. If half as much effort were to be expended in improving the quality of patient care as is involved in creating “certainty and predictability to jury verdicts” there may very well not be a reason for a lawsuit in the first place.

All efforts to cap damages or to create a schedule for them are basically premised on the idea that fewer victims will seek compensation if it is guaranteed by law to be insufficient. It is as if the malpractice crisis can be solved by causing its most severely injured victims to give up any quest for justice. Does this provide even one ounce of incentive to a doctor or hospital to provide better care? Does this, instead, encourage and even reward business as usual?

Allowing our fellow citizens to award the fair monetary damages to every victim of malpractice, without caps or schedules, is the right thing to do. Schedules may make trains more convenient, but they do not improve the quality of medical care.