In 2003 and 2004, the state of Florida implemented a number of reforms that capped the amounts that attorneys can gather from medical malpractice rates. The move was ostensibly meant to reduce the number of lawsuits filed and to ease the stress on malpractice insurers. The move has left many patients worried, however, about their rights to fair compensation for the pain and suffering inflicted by medical errors and doctor negligence.
In January 2007, The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation held public hearings to look at medical malpractice rates proposed by Steve Burgess, Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate. The hearings stem from the fact that Pro National Insurance Co.’s has recently requested an overall rate decrease in Florida of 8.6 percent. This rate would apply to medical malpractice liability policies.
Florida Sen. J.D. Alexander sponsored an amendment to stabilize the insurance market in the state. The amendment suggested excluding medical malpractice insurance from a potential surcharge that would be applied to property insurance. The move is meant to address the problem of doctors who are leaving Florida or refusing to take high-risk patients because of malpractice concerns.
Studies have suggested that high medical malpractice premiums in Florida prevent some medical students from taking high-risk residencies – such as in ob/gyn – partly because they fear getting sued and partly because of high premiums. This has resulted in a shortage of qualified health care practitioners. Florida doctors who have three malpractice judgments on their records may lose their license, but there is now limit as to how much can be collected in malpractice cases.
This causes some concern to patients who have been affected by malpractice. Negligence or intentional injury inflicted by a health care worker can cause wrongful death, disability, and serious personal injuries. Some victims are confused about their rights under the new rules. If you have been injured because of the actions of a health care professional, you may need to speak to an attorney to fully understand your options and rights.