The Fleecing Of Seriously Injured Medical Malpractice Victims In Injuries

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This article is reprinted electronically with the express permission of Northern Illinois University Law Review. The article originally appeared in Volume 26, Summer 2006 at page 527 and can be retrieved and should be cited or quoted from the original published version found at 26 N. ILL. U. L. REV. 527.

The Supreme Court of Illinois has twice held that caps on damages are unconstitutional. In 1976, the Court decided Wright v. Central Du Page Hospital Association, holding that caps on damages in medical malpractice cases are unconstitutional. Twenty-one years later, the court in Best v. Taylor Machine Works held that caps on non-economic damages in bodily injury and death cases are unconstitutional. Nothing has changed since Wright and Best, except another lap around the insurance industry's predictable economic cycle. Once again, medical malpractice insurance companies temporarily lost money on their investments, hiked up premiums, and then blamed it on the seriously injured medical malpractice victim. However, overwhelming evidence shows that the recent surge in malpractice premiums is not causally related to damage awards or indemnity payouts. Overwhelming evidence shows that caps on damages in medical malpractice cases do not reduce physicians' premiums. So why were caps enacted yet again? Medical liability insurers cleverly manipulated their books to mislead physicians, lawmakers and the public into believing that Illinois is in the midst of another so-called "medical malpractice crisis" caused by noneconomic damage awards. The deceived public is fearful of losing health care access, so lawmakers, wanting to be re-elected, pass so-called "reforms", while doctors' premiums continue to skyrocket and medical malpractice insurers' profit. This so-called "reform" is ultimately to the harm of those not backed by powerful special interests and who are unaware that they will someday need the protection of the courts, the seriously injured medical malpractice victim.