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Louisiana Medical Malpractice Bill Shelved

Louisiana Medical Malpractice Bill Proposed System Changes

Two Louisiana Medical Malpractice bills calling for an increase in the $500,000 cap on economic damages for medical malpractice has prompted lawmakers to consider broader changes in state laws.  The House Civil Law and Procedure Committee voted Thursday to put the two measures on hold for the current legislative session.

House Bill 526 by Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Dubberly, and House Bill 51 by Rep. Steve Pugh, R-Tangipahoa, were held in committee. But there was a consensus that the measures raised issues that needed to be reviewed in a broader context, a scrutiny that would involve not only lawmakers but those involved, such as doctors and personal injury lawyers.

HB526 would have extended the amount of time plaintiffs have to file a medical malpractice suit from 12 months to 18 months after the discovery of the incident, and moving from three year to five years from the time of the incident.  The current laws have not changed in decades.

The bill also would have adjusted the cap on recoverable damages, which currently sits at a $500,000 limit, but limits awards for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, to $350,000. It defines the limit on economic damages to the “actual cost of past and future medical care and related benefits.”  This may or may not be an improvement for the recovery of the victims, whose recoverable damages are often lower than their actual losses.

Corey Shadd, who testified in favor of the legislation and noted his grandmother died because of misdiagnosis, emphasized the current cap was enacted 43 years ago and has not been changed since.

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