Kentucky’s medical malpractice claim procedures will soon be subjected
to higher scrutiny due to recently approved tort reform. Whenever a
medical malpractice claim is filed in the state, a three-doctor panel backed by a supervising attorney
will need to review the case for validity. If the panel does not approve
the claim, it will not reach courts.
The panel, which will first start reviewing claims on Thursday, June 29th, will need to establish if:
- The plaintiff had a doctor-patient relationship with the defendant.
- The defendant violated standard of care practices.
- The violation caused the plaintiff real harm.
- The plaintiff’s harm is serious enough to warrant a lawsuit.
After a review, the panel can either approve of the lawsuit, acknowledge
the violation of a standard of care but not its proximity to an injury,
or decide that no standard of care was violated. While the legislators
behind the tort reform believe it will clear the courts of frivolous lawsuits
and benefit the average plaintiff with a real complaint, many legal professionals
and personal injury lawyers in Kentucky fear the opposite. Adding more
steps between a medical malpractice plaintiff and compensation will generally
only benefit insurance companies, medical groups, and negligent doctors.
Even if the panel never rejects any complaints, it will still add significant
time to the entire process, time that can cost the plaintiff dearly.
Are More Changes On the Horizon?
The medical malpractice tort reform that established the three-doctor panel
system could be just the first of many changes to injury torts in Kentucky.
Other bills and ideas have been passed around, and most would not benefit
the average plaintiff. One would introduce damage caps to
product liability cases, for example, protecting companies from paying out maximized compensation
to consumers they have wrongfully injured.
Another idea that has been mentioned is eliminating contingency fees for
personal injury lawsuits. Under a contingency fee agreement, a personal
injury attorney will only be paid if the case results in a settlement
or verdict amount for the plaintiff, and the attorney is paid a percentage
of those winnings. If contingency fees are prohibited, lawyers would need
to either charge flat or hourly rates, meaning people of low income could
likely not afford the services of a personal injury attorney. This would
be hugely detrimental for plaintiffs and attorneys, who could expect less business.
Louisville Medical Malpractice Attorney Brett Oppenheimer
At Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC, we are staunch defenders of the peoples’
right to pursue justice and compensation after being hurt by the negligence
of another party. We are keeping a close eye on legislative changes in
Kentucky and will post crucial story updates to
our media and news feed here on our website. Be sure to visit frequently.
If you need the services of our Louisville personal injury attorney, Mr.
Oppenheimer, for a claim of your own, feel free to
contact us at any time. We offer
free consultations to get you started in the right direction without having
to reach for your pocketbook.