The Texas Trial Lawyers Association used to attract anywhere from 250 to 350 people to its seminars on medical malpractice. That was before Texas enacted a cap on damages in med-mal cases. "This past year, we had 31 people show up," said Jay Harvey, past president of the association that represents plaintiffs' attorneys. The public-policy issues behind medical-malpractice reform are a matter of debate. But judging from the experience of other states, it's apparent that the reforms create a lasting impact on the business of law, leading to fewer attorneys able or wiling to take on med-mal cases, fewer billable hours available for firms that represent insurance companies, with some attorneys refocusing their practice or entirely dropping a concentration they developed. If a bill now in the N.C. General Assembly becomes law, North Carolina would join 25 other states with some form of cap on damages in medical-malpractice cases.
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