Oregon Medical Malpractice Caps: Good or Bad?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 10, 2020

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Are medical malpractice caps good or bad? The answer to that question depends on whether you work for a hospital or insurer or are a patient who’s been injured. The state of Oregon is currently struggling with that issue. Read on and you can answer that question for yourself.

Medical malpractice caps

The state of Oregon had medical malpractice state tort caps in place that limited damage awards to $200,000. However, a December 2007 ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court removed that cap allowing those injured by the state to receive more. The ruling was prompted by one of the state’s university and medical centers – the Oregon Health & Science University which has seen its fair share of medical malpractice lawsuits. The University recently settled six malpractice lawsuits for a total of $38.5 million. However, that settlement has fueled a debate on whether caps are good or bad. Here are both sides of the coin:

Good. The University and its insurers are saying that damage caps are good because they limit the amount of damages available those who have been injured due to medical malpractice and, in turn, are able to provide the community with medical education, clinics and cheaper medical care. They point to the University’s announcement after the settlement that it plans to cut up to 300 jobs, eliminate community clinics and raise tuition at the University by 20 percent.

Bad. Critics of medical malpractice caps say that patients who are injured by state facilities such as Oregon’s Health & Science University shouldn’t be limited in their ability to recover for damages. They point to three of the cases the University settled in which patients would have only received $200,000 for their injuries:

  1. The first involves an infant who was deprived of oxygen for 14 minutes while being delivered by the facility. He suffered severe brain damage and will now require round the clock care for the rest of his life. The estimated cost for that? $17 million.
  2. The second case involves a 22 year-old who was left blind and paralyzed after undergoing surgery for epileptic seizures. The University settled that case for $8.3 million.
  3. The third case involves a seven month old child who suffered brain damage after undergoing surgery at the facility and settled his case for $11.8 million.

Oregon lawmakers are planning to revisit the medical malpractice caps issue next year. So, how would you vote? Regardless of whether you believe caps are bad or good, if you’ve been injured due to medical malpractice, it’s important to understand what damages you or your family may be entitled to where you live. To do that, contact an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law to discuss your situation. Click here to contact an experienced Oregon medical malpractice lawyer.

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