A Senate committee this week continued a fierce debate on the merits of a medical-malpractice bill that would cap noneconomic damages and make it harder to bring a claim against emergency room health-care providers.
Members of the Judiciary I committee added more than a dozen proposed amendments to the bill, S. 33. Among them were:
- Changing the cap on noneconomic damages from $250,000 in the current version of the bill to $500,000.
- Changing the burden of proof in cases involving emergency care providers from clear and convincing evidence to the greater weight of the evidence, which is a lower burden.
- Changing the provision on emergency providers to eliminate the gross negligence threshold in the current bill and substituting deviation from the standard of care, which is generally the current threshold for a med-mal negligence claim.
The N.C. Advocates for Justice, a plaintiffs’ lawyers group, has launched a series of TV ads to fight the bill. Supporters released a list of groups that back the bill, ranging from local chambers of commerce to construction industry leaders to Norfolk Southern Railroad.
Meanwhile, a bill was introduced in the House that is expected to be more to the liking of the NCAJ. The bill would allow plaintiff’s counsel to present evidence of or make inquiries regarding the existence of liability insurance coverage held by any defendant.
- By SYLVIA ADCOCK, Staff Writer