Medical Malpractice Reform Law in North Carolina Slashes Jury’s Award

Medical Malpractice Reform Law in North Carolina Slashes Jury’s Award

Medical Malpractice Reform Law in North Carolina Slashes Jury’s Award

Charlotte, NC Personal Injury Lawyer

In a medical malpractice case out of Fayetteville, a North Carolina statute that was designed to discourage medical malpractice lawsuits will reduce a $7.5 million damages award by a jury to a medical malpractice plaintiff to $3.5 million. The jury reached its verdict after a two-week trial in Cumberland County Superior Court, but the state law passed in 2011 will cut the recovery for so-called non-economic damages, according to a local news report.

Negligent Medical Care

This case arises out of a mistake that the defendant, a local Fayetteville surgeon, made during colon surgery that left a leaking hole in the patient’s bowels in 2010. The leaking bowel resulted in severe infections. Over the next four months the plaintiff endured lengthy hospital stays, a six-week coma, and three more surgeries because of the infections. The plaintiff also received poor follow-up care from the surgeon and her primary care physician, and she will continue to require constant medical care for the rest of her life.

At trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff with $3.24 million for her financial expenses and losses and an additional $4 million in non-economic damages for disfigurement, permanent injury, pain and suffering, etc. Additionally, the jury awarded damages to the plaintiff’s husband for $300,000 for loss of consortium.

Tort Reform Law

In 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill to reform medical malpractice liability. The bill, among other things, would cap non-economic damages for patients in medical malpractice cases at $500,000. Non-economic damages are damages meant to compensate for pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, and any other nonpecuniary, compensatory damage. The only time that an award of damages may rise above this cap is if the jury finds that the medical provider acted recklessly, in a grossly negligent manner, fraudulently, or with malice. Proponents of the law argue that the cap will lower the cost of malpractice insurance, especially in high-risk medical specialties like obstetrics and neurology. They believe the law will lead to lower health-care costs and more access to doctors in rural areas. However, opponents contend that it should not apply to measurable injuries like paralysis, brain damage, or death because the cap would apply to lost earning potential. Additionally, some argue that the cap is unconstitutional because citizens have a right under the North Carolina constitution to have a jury make a determination regarding the amount of compensatory damages, including non-economic damages, in civil trials.

In this case, the jury found that the doctors were negligent but did not decide that their actions rose to the level of recklessness, gross negligence, or that that they acted with malice. Therefore, under the new law, the $4 million portion of the jury’s award is blocked, and the judge has to reduce that award to $500,000.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice and are seeking compensation for your injuries, the attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you seek a remedy against negligent medical providers. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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