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Louisville residents should pay attention to new med mal law

Kentucky lawmakers are deliberating a bill that could affect how easily victims of medical malpractice can file and successfully pursue a lawsuit against their doctors for negligence.

The new measure, which has not been pass, would make two big changes to Kentucky's current medical malpractice laws.

Perhaps more importantly, it would place caps on how much an attorney can collect after winning a medical malpractice case. For instance, an attorney who recovers $1 million for his or her client could collect $140,000, or 14 percent of the injured patient's compensation. To put this number in perspective, an attorney who recovered $200,000 can take $60,000 as his or her fee.

Generally speaking, attorneys' fees are dictated by whatever his or her client agrees to and the ethical standards which apply to lawyers. Limiting fees, according to proponents of this measure, assures that victims get more money in to their pockets.

Critics, however, say that imposing what amounts to a price ceiling on attorneys could mean that fewer lawyers will be willing to take medical malpractice cases, meaning more patients will be left on their own to negotiate how much compensation, if any, that they will receive.

The other measure in the bill would give further strength to the medical review panels lawmakers recently enacted, although these panels are currently under court review. Specifically, the bill would require a victim to identify and present an affidavit from an expert attesting that medical malpractice occurred, unless a review panel found in the victim's favor.

Residents of Louisville should continue to pay attention to this law as it makes its way through the Legislature, especially since it could leave victims of malpractice with fewer options.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Kentucky advances legislation aimed at revising state's medical malpractice system," Bruce Schreiner, Feb. 9, 2018.

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