Kentucky lawmakers continue malpractice revisions

The Kentucky Legislature is considering a measure that critics say will further erode Kentucky's protections for victims of medical malpractice.

Recently, the Kentucky Legislature passed a law requiring malpractice claims to be reviewed by a panel of experts for an opinion on whether there was medical negligence before a victim can file suit. That law is currently pending judicial review.

Now, the Legislature is proposing to cap how much money an attorney can collect in a medical malpractice case. Specifically, the fee limit would be $60,000 for cases in which there are $200,000 in damages. Attorney fees would be higher if damages were higher; for instance, an attorney could recover $140,000 for a $1 million case.

While proponents of this measure say it will allow victims to get more money in their pockets after a malpractice lawsuit, critics say that it could make it less affordable for an attorney to get involved in a malpractice case in the first place. When a victim cannot afford an attorney, they will be left to deal with the doctor's insurance company themselves and may wind up having to accept a lower settlement offer.

As a side note, the law also gives further teeth to the medical review panels by requiring a victim to show some expert proof that their doctor was negligent, unless of course the review panel agreed that malpractice occurred.

Kentuckians, and particularly those who are under the care of a physician or who may have a procedure down the road, should pay careful attention to this bill. However one feels about it, this bill, if it becomes law, will have a profound effect on an average resident's ability to file and pursue a medical malpractice case.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Kentucky advanced legislation aimed at revising state's medical malpractice system," Bruce Schreiner, Feb. 9, 2018.

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