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New Bills Cause Questions About Louisiana’s Medical Malpractice Laws

Posted on August 11, 2017

Two bills in Louisiana created to increase the $500,000 cap on economic damages in medical malpractice cases prompted the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee to seek an all-encompassing look at the state’s medical malpractice laws. This action puts the two bills on hold for the 2017 legislative season.

House Bills in Question

photo by Darko Stojanovic

The bills in question are  House Bill 526 by Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, and House Bill 51 by Rep. Steve Pugh, R-Ponchatoula. The consensus after the bills were held in committee was that the issues raised need to be reviewed in broader context. The issues will be reviewed by lawmakers, doctors, and personal injury lawyers.

HB 526

HB 526 would bring about the following changes:

  • Set the amount of time that plaintiffs have to file a suit from 12 months to 18 months after discovery
  • Change the maximum time period between the incident and filing the suit from three years to five years
  • Adjust the cap on recoverable damages from $500,000 with a $350,000 maximum on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering to the actual cost of past and future medical care and related benefits
  • Change the makeup of the medical review panel, limiting the review panel to one such specialist and ensuring that none of the other members went to school with, worked with or live within 100 miles of the defendant.

HB 51

HB 51 would adjust the cap on recoverable damages to $1 million plus interest and costs.

Many people testified for and in opposition to the new bills, recalling stories about how the system failed family members who had to file for medical malpractice. Many hope to keep the system accountable for medical mistakes so they don’t happen in the first place.

The issues will be reviewed in broader context and will delay the measure until after the House and Senate’s current session. But Reynolds stated that it served its intended purpose to capture attention.