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Why Did Georgia Strike Down Malpractice Caps?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2016 | Medical Malpractice |

In 2008, a 15-year-old Ohio girl was victimized by the pastor of her church. The man was immediately arrested and plead guilty to the charges. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for his crime, but information soon surfaced that the church may have played a part in the man’s crimes.

How Do Malpractice Caps Hurt People?

Years earlier the same pastor had been accused of saying inappropriate things to an 18-year-old woman during a counseling session. The church ignored that woman’s warnings that the pastor could be a danger to young women, and when her predictions came true the pastor’s most recent victim took the church to court.

A jury awarded the 15-year-old $3.6 million in civil court, but due to Ohio laws, her non-economic damages were capped at $250,000 by a law meant to limit medical malpractice verdicts. This injustice has Ohioans enraged, and Georgians know exactly how they feel.

Not long ago, Georgia had a cap on non-economic damages that could be awarded to a victim in a civil lawsuit. However, the Georgia Supreme Court declared the cap unconstitutional because it “encroached” on the powers of judges and juries. By capping the damages a plaintiff could receive, the legislature had negated the findings of the courts that had ruled on these lawsuits, and that was a step too far.

Years after this landmark ruling, the legislature is still trying to take away the court’s power. Legislators submitted a bill that would take malpractice cases in front of a panel of “medical experts” instead of letting these cases go to a jury trial. This would have taken plaintiffs straight out of the court system, and into a type of trial juried by doctors. This had the potential to limit what damages a patient could receive after being victimized, but there were many who saw through this plan.

The bill proposing to take malpractice suits out of the courts and into the hands of doctors was voted down. This bill had the potential of cheating the victims of medical malpractice out of the compensation that they deserved-just like the 15-year-old girl in Ohio who was victimized by her pastor. To keep this from happening we must continue to stay vigilant, so keep following our blog for the latest updates, and log onto Facebook and Twitter to tell us your ideas on how to protect plaintiffs’ rights.