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How malpractice damages caps protect doctors in Ohio

Ohio is among the states with legal limits on how much the plaintiff in a successful medical malpractice lawsuit. Like many other states, Ohio’s malpractice cap applies to what is known as “non-economic” damages: damages claimed by the plaintiff, like pain and suffering, emotional distress and lost enjoyment of life, that are difficult to put a dollar figure to. Compare these types of injury to lost wages and medical bills, which comes with invoices and are thus more easily compensable.

Different states have set their caps at different levels. For example, Indiana’s is among the lowest in the nation at $1.25 million, where it has been for many years, according to WBNS-TV.

A bill that has passed both the state Senate there would increase the cap to $1.65 million in 2017 and $1.8 million in 2019. An earlier House bill went further. It would have increased the cap every four years until 2031. Lawmakers saw it as keeping pace with the cost of living, but the Indiana State Medical Association said this would lead to more malpractice lawsuits and higher insurance premiums, stopping doctors from moving to the state to practice medicine.

The issue with non-economic damages is, because they are hard to quantify, juries sometimes will order overly high awards. Multi-million-dollar verdicts can cripple a medical practice. Besides making the state less appealing for doctors to live and practice in, the threat of huge awards can affect how doctors treat their patients, possibly reducing quality of care.

For information on defending your practice from malpractice accusations, please contact a personal injury defense attorney.

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