Sunday, February 27, 2005

Bush: Kill the Messenger - Attack victims Lawyers

Last month in Illinois, Mr. Bush called for strict limits on medical malpractice suits, including a cap of $250,000 on what victims and their families could recover for non-economic damages. Non economic damages include physical and emotional pain and suffering. Also attcked would be Lawyers fees. Although only about 20% of Med Mal cases succeed at trial and Attorneys have to spend Tens of thousands even hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing them and advancing costs on behalf of the victims family for them, Bush would cap attorneys fees as well as victims awards so that any payment over $600,000 would limit the attorneys fee to 15%.

Lets call it what it really is Mr. Bush: a limit on citizens access to the civil justice system for crippled victims of incompetant doctors. Notice he does not propose a cap or limit to how much the suspended doctor can pay HIS/HER attorney! Nor does he propose sanctions against repeat offending doctors. He just attacks the victims access to Justice: Lawyers. Medical Malpractice cases have always been David vs. Goliath situations, now David is losing his sling: What lawyer would want to work 2 years on a case he has a 20% chance of winning, spend $100,00 in upfront costs he may never recoup, and be limited to a 15% fee on any payment over $600K?

Who is hurt here? Children and elder citizens, the most in need of protection. Why? Because with no lost earnings, the recovery is limited to "pain and suffering" and a 'hard' cap by Bush of $250,000. To illustrate why an attorney can't economically take one of those cases: An attorney might recover a fee of $65,000 after spending more than that out of pocket.