Iowa’s governor, Terry Branstad, signed into law on May 5, 2017 new legislation that limits noneconomic damages in Iowa Medical Malpractice cases to $250,000 unless the jury determines that there is a substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function, substantial disfigurement, or death, which warrants a finding that imposition of such a limitation would deprive the plaintiff of just compensation for the injuries sustained.
The new law (Senate File 465) defines noneconomic damages as pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of chance, loss of consortium, or any other nonpecuniary damages.
The new Iowa Medical malpractice tort reform law also requires that the victims of medical malpractice file a certificate of merit affidavit, and establishes new, restrictive standards for experts who testify in medical malpractice cases in Iowa.
Senate File 465 had passed the Iowa House 65-32 on April 12, 2017 and had passed the Iowa Senate 37-12 on April 17, 2017.
The stated justification for imposing such restrictions on medical malpractice victims in Iowa is for Iowa to become more competitive and to attract more physicians to Iowa (by insulating them from their full responsibility for the most serious harms they negligently cause to their patients). The stated purpose in enacting costly and additional hurdles that victims of medical malpractice must overcome before they may obtain compensation for the losses they suffered due to their medical providers failing to provide them proper medical care is to address “frivolous” medical malpractice lawsuits.
In signing the Iowa medical malpractice tort reform into law, the Governor of Iowa stated, “This is something I’ve waited a long time to sign. I think we’re going to see significant benefits in terms of attracting and retaining physicians and other health care professionals as a result.”
Was Medical Malpractice Tort Reform In Iowa Necessary Or Desireable Now?
The Iowa Association for Justice reports that medical malpractice lawsuits in Iowa have fallen 39% over the past decade and are near an historic low, that Iowans file fewer medical malpractice lawsuits per capita than nearly every other U.S. state, and that Iowa medical malpractice lawsuits represent just one-tenth of one percent of all civil lawsuits filed in Iowa.
Is it fair, just, and right to provide financial benefits to negligent medical providers at the expense of their victims of medical malpractice? May there be other more relevant reasons Iowa cannot attract and retain medical providers, other than no cap on damages for the harm they cause by their negligent medical care? How many “frivolous” medical malpractice cases were filed in Iowa before this tort reform law was signed into law that would justify shackling all medical malpractice victims with costly burdens in seeking justice?
If you suffered serious injury as a result of medical negligence in Iowa, you should promptly find an Iowa medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your Iowa medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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