In recent years, many states across the country have implemented tort reform initiatives which cap the noneconomic damages recoverable in medical malpractice cases. The theory behind these measures is that by capping noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, it will reduce the malpractice insurance premiums paid by doctors and as a result, lower healthcare costs.
In 2005, Georgia passed a tort reform law capping noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases at $350,000. However, the Georgia Supreme Court chose to overturn this statute in 2010, declaring that it was unconstitutional.
The ruling by the state Supreme Court came in an appeal of the verdict awarded to Betty Nestlehutt, a 75-year-old medical malpractice victim. A botched facelift left Ms. Nestlehutt permanently disfigured. Her case went to trial, and the jury awarded her $1.265 million. Of this, $115,000 was awarded for economic damages such as past and future medical expenses, and the remaining $1.15 million was awarded to cover noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.
The doctors found guilty of medical malpractice in this case appealed the damage award to the state Supreme Court, claiming it violated the 2005 tort reform laws capping noneconomic damages at $350,000. However, the Georgia Supreme Court found that this medical malpractice damage cap was unconstitutional, violating the victim’s right to having a jury of her peers determine the appropriate value of compensation.
This is a very important ruling that impacts all Georgia medical malpractice victims moving forward. It is a significant victory in plaintiff’s rights and as a result, there are no longer any caps on the amount of damages you can receive in a medical malpractice case.
With more than 30 years of experience handling these complex cases, Atlanta medical malpractice attorney Laurie Robbins has the skills necessary to help you maximize your compensation. She will fight aggressively to make sure your damage award reflects the true value of your claim.
Please contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation. Robbins & Associates serves clients in Atlanta, Georgia.