Proposed Medical Malpractice Reform Bill Would Increase Plaintiff’s Burden of Proof

North Carolina Lawmakers have proposed Senate Bill 33, which would bar emergency room patients from recovering damages based on the negligence of medical providers, regardless of the severity or permanency of the injury.

Our Maryland medical malpractice attorneys have significant experience representing
Plaintiffs who have been injured by a medical provider’s negligence.

Citing the need for tort reform, proponents claim that the bill will shield from liability any medical provider that provides “emergency medical services.” Plaintiff’s will need to prove “gross” negligence or wanton and willful conduct on the part of the medical provider. The topic of tort reform is a perennial subject in the Maryland State legislature.

Among the issues raised is the cap on noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. Presently, Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages is $740,000. The proposed North Carolina bill will decrease North Carolina’s cap to $500,000 and increase the Plaintiff’s burden of proof. Many states have no cap on non-economic damages.

The problem with the North Carolina bill is that the one-size-fits-all approach unfairly penalizes patients who have been wronged. The more reasoned and fair approach is to allow a jury to decide liability and damages.

Moreover, increasing the Plaintiff’s burden of proof would do little to promote public safety and would certainly act as a deterrent for Plaintiffs.

The language in question states: “The defendant health care provider shall not be liable for the payment of damages unless the … health care provider’s deviation from the stand of care … constituted gross negligence, wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing.”

The bill has passed several readings in the North Carolina legislature, but is still in the drafting process.