New Hampshire might be the first to adopt a program that is being billed as an alternative to settling medical malpractice lawsuits.
Senate Bill 406 suggests there is another alternative for patients and their families who sustain injuries or die as a result of a medical procedure, of securing timely settlement under the auspices of an early offer program. New Hampshire would be the first to try the program that would see patients getting a settlement within 90-days. This is something a Nashua medical malpractice lawyer does not support in any way, as every patient that is the victim of medical malpractice is entitled to their day in court and to have their case presented to a jury.
The idea behind this early offer program is that a settlement would consist of reimbursement for lost wages, money for medical bills and another payment calculated on how severe the medical malpractice incident happens to be. For example, the payment may range from $1,700 for a minor injury to $117,500 for more serious injuries or death. Program participation would be entirely voluntary on the part of the patient, and the process taken care of by the state Insurance Department.
There are two schools of thought on this program. Those who support the program feel it will significantly reduce the time, cost and anxiety involved in medical malpractice cases, which take, on average about four years to be resolved in New Hampshire. Those who do not support this program think the bill curries favor with hospitals and insurance companies. It requires a patient who is not happy with the early offer settlement to be held to an even higher burden of proof than required in a lawsuit. This is something an experienced Nashua medical malpractice lawyer condemns wholeheartedly as taking more rights away from victims and trying to silence their voices.
The payout prices are almost a giveaway that hospitals and insurance companies will benefit more from this bill than patients. If a medical malpractice case went to court, it is certain the jury would award more than $117,500 for a death, which is why it makes perfect sense that the bill, as it stands, is backed by insurance companies and hospitals, but slammed by trial attorneys who think this bill is a very bad idea.
An experienced Nashua medical malpractice lawyer can see immediately that the bill has the dismaying potential to let medical professionals low-ball settlement offers, then jam the patient who turns one down, into going to court and facing a tedious uphill battle for true justice. Could patients play the system and request an early offer to see what they would get versus what they may get in court? Possibly. However, considering the minimum and maximum amounts in the bill at the moment, it is not likely the patient would do worse than that in court.
This bill is horrifically close to being passed and the evidence supporting its passage is fabricated, skewed and misleading. It is interesting that those who loudly espouse small government, as being better, turn around and attempt to implement big government controls through legislation. The smallest and most local decision making body in medical malpractice cases needs to be a jury.
Charlie Donahue is a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer located in Keene. Donahue handles injury cases in New Hampshire and across the United States. To learn more about New Hampshire injury attorney, Charlie Donahue, visit Donahuelawfirm.com.