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Leighton Sheds Light on FL Supreme Court Case McCall vs. U.S. on Damages Caps, for Lawyers.com starstarstarstarstar

02-24-2012

Florida Supreme Court to Decide on Damages Caps

Posted February 23, 2012

BY KEITH ECKER

“The health care debate is heating up in Florida as the state’s highest court weighs the constitutionality of a law that places caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. The case, known as McCall v. U.S., concerns 20-year-old Michelle McCall, who bled to death while giving her birth to her son.”

John Leighton weighs in on the issues with reporter Keith Ecker, for Lawyers.com. 

Click here for the full article

Excerpts:

“There was no crisis; there is no crisis,” Leighton says. “The reason insurance premiums are going up is because most physicians don’t carry insurance in the South Florida area.

Florida’s legislators passed the caps in 2003 under the frequently used guise of tort reform, a movement often spearheaded by corporate interests to influence elected officials and voters to pass laws that restrict consumers’ access to the courts.

“What is important for people to understand is that these laws are passed by legislators in Tallahassee that are generally controlled by the medical industry,” Leighton says.

In fact, the Florida legislature is attempting to further bar their constituents’ access to the courts through a new statutory initiative that, among other things, would allow physicians to have patients sign waivers to give up their rights to file a medical malpractice claim in court. Instead, injured patients would have to arbitrate their cases.

“Courts have favored arbitration because it clears the dockets,” Leighton says. “Unfortunately, arbitration inherently favors corporations, businesses and the ones who seek to have it in place.”

“In Florida, obtaining compensation from an uninsured doctor is a very difficult process,” Leighton says. “For one thing, the state is a debtor’s haven. And even though a physician is supposed to have $250,000 worth of financial responsibility under Florida law, the doctor could declare bankruptcy.”

“Having medical malpractice insurance is a sign of someone who takes their practice seriously and who is willing to stand behind their mistakes,” Leighton says.

“Also, ask questions to help prevent mistakes from happening,” Leighton says. “There’s no such thing as a stupid question, especially when it comes to your health.”