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.