Following the November election cycle, the GOP took majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives, and picked up gubernatorial seats across the country. In Kentucky, this new super-majority has some worried about the future of personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits.
In the past, Republican members of Kentucky’s legislature have expressed keen interest in tort law reform to encourage new businesses to come to the state. The majority Republicans now hold in Kentucky and throughout the United States means that if the proposed changes turn into bills, they will almost certainly turn into law. Two of the key proposed changes would be placing a cap on how much a plaintiff can recover in the typical tort, and establishing medical review panels to approve or dismiss medical malpractice lawsuits before they ever reach a judge. Because Kentucky ‘s Constitution (Section 54) states “The General Assembly shall have no power to limit the amount to be recovered for injuries resulting in death, or for injuries to person or property”, it is most likely that medical review panels will be Kentucky’s answer to tort reform.
Currently proponents of tort reform claim that changes are needed due to skyrocketing costs for medical malpractice insurance premiums for doctors and increases in frivolous medical malpractice payouts. While tort law changes will likely benefit doctors and hospitals and other healthcare providers, it will not likely benefit the average American. In fact, it could prove to be outright dangerous. Placing a cap on personal injury tort recoveries could put patients and consumers in peril as safety standards start to slip. Johns Hopkins researchers published a study in 2016 citing that 10% of all U. S. deaths are now due to medical error. Without sufficient checks and balances of our medical community by the public and legal community, that statistic could plausibly increase.
Interestingly, Americans for Insurance Reform, which is a coalition of consumer and public interest groups, published a study in 2016 showing that both premiums and claims for doctors are at their lowest level in forty years when adjusted for inflation. In fact, the study shows that doctors’ insurance premiums have dropped across the board and are actually higher in states that have tort reform as opposed to states without tort reform.
At Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC, we always put our clients’ best interests and comfort first and foremost. To learn that Kentucky legislation might be changing to go opposite our goals is not ideal, but we promise to continue to give the top-tier representation in pursuit of maximum compensation for our clients, now and for all the years to come. For important updates about tort law in Kentucky, check our media and news feed regularly; for injury representation, call our Louisville personal injury and medical malpractice attorney at (502) 242-8877 today to get a free consultation.