Jean Simmons kept moving her mother Betty from one nursing home to another after discovering mistreatment and neglect by her mother’s caregivers. When her mother died recently at a nursing home in East Texas, Ms. Simmons wanted justice for the woman who raised her, while maybe preventing someone else’s parent from spending the waning years of life in misery.
But Texas – like more than 30 other states – has a cap on damages for nursing home negligence cases, which effectively prevents Ms. Simmons from holding the nursing home company accountable. “It is a lose-lose, because your loved one is suffering and you don’t even want validation or money for it,” Simmons said. “You just want good care. And you still can’t get that.”
Medical Errors Pegged as Third Leading Cause of Death
You’ve probably heard or read about nursing home negligence cases like that of Ms. Simmons, or stories in the news of terrible mistakes at hospitals and clinics, or reports about medical devices that fail and cause serious injury or death.
So why in the world would anyone in Congress propose a law that would make it nearly impossible to pursue lawsuits and hold insurance companies and big corporations accountable for these mistakes? But that’s exactly what this currently pending legislation, House Resolution 1215, misnamed the “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017,” would do, capping non-economic damages on many medical malpractice and nursing home abuse lawsuits to just $250,000.
Supporters of these measures argue that they are necessary to deter greedy patients from exploiting doctors and healthcare facilities for personal gain. Many say that nursing home negligence caps will keep healthcare costs down by reducing the amount of money paid out on medical malpractice lawsuits and insurance. But the experts tell a very different story.
Here are the Facts
- Nearly half a million people die from preventable medical errors each year, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer. In addition, 10 to 20 times more people are seriously injured. Caps do nothing to make health care safer and instead protect the financial interests of big corporations and insurance companies rather than save you money.
- Lawyers are not filling the courts with frivolous medical malpractice and nursing home abuse lawsuits. Medical malpractice lawsuits are rare and make up only 0.2 to 2 percent of all civil cases each year, and that number continues to decrease.
- Instead of lowering health care costs, research shows that costs have actually increased by about 4 to 5 percent in states with damage caps.
And something else you should know about these laws: They allow the Federal government to override state laws that protect consumers and patients in favor of laws that protect corporate healthcare at the expense of patient safety.
Oppose Laws that Punish Those
Who Have Already Suffered Nursing Home Negligence
The founders of our country knew how important it was to arm the average citizen with the right to hold powerful special interests accountable in a court of law. They believed so strongly in this principle that they enshrined it in the Bill of Rights as the 7th Amendment to the Constitution. Restricting that right in cases of negligent medical and nursing home care will only punish those who have already suffered enough, while actually reducing the incentive for big corporations and insurance companies to address the epidemic of preventable medical errors. As this article details, powerful interests have a lot to gain by preventing access to justice as determined by juries.
Later this month, the House of Representatives will take the first step in restricting this right for all Americans by voting on House Resolution 1215. If passed, the bill will then move on to the Senate and eventually the President’s desk. We urge you to take a closer look at this legislation, and if you feel the same way as we do, contact your members of Congress and make your voice heard on this important issue.
Contact NH Nursing Home Injury Attorneys
Before pursuing a civil action for institutional elder abuse, it is important to objectively evaluate the facts of the case. The NH Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC provide aggressive yet caring legal representation for those whose loved ones have been the victims of institutional elder abuse. Our goal is to help our clients receive full and fair compensation for injuries, including pain and suffering, that have been sustained due to negligent care of the elderly.
If you need help bringing a NH nursing home liability claim, or have any questions, including needing information about a nursing home requiring the signing of a forced arbitration clause, we are available to help. There are no up-front costs for our services. All personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning that we are only paid for our services if we successfully recover damages from the responsible party. For a free consultation, call (603) 239-2315, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the “contact us” form or chat feature on our website.
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