California voters this year will be voting on a measure that would raise the cap on non-economic damages from a meager $250,000 to $1.1 million. According to attorney Richard Levin of the Chicago-based Levin, Riback Law Group, it would be better to have no damage caps on medical malpractice damages.
In Levin’s opinion, any cap on damages is arbitrary and discriminates against an injured party whose story hasn’t even been heard by a jury. Levin thinks that raising damage caps is a trend, an attempt to offer more help to injured plaintiffs and yet placate those who believe that juries will run wild without the caps. Levin says that the runaway jury is a myth. Juries may spend three weeks listening to all the evidence and then tend to make sound decisions. “Juries don’t give away millions of dollars to people who haven’t been hurt.”
Levin cites the Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants lawsuit as the perfect example of a badly injured plaintiff who received a large jury award to compensate her for her serious injuries. People who receive large jury awards are people who have had very serious injuries and will probably have impairments for the rest of their lives. Levin tells everyone who walks into his office that “You don’t want to have a big case.”
The claim that lower verdicts will mean lower medical malpractice premiums is false, according to Levin. He points to the Florida Supreme Court opinion striking down Florida’s caps. The court found that there really was no medical malpractice crisis. Any savings achieved were absorbed by insurance companies and not passed on to doctors. The number of physicians actually increased.
Richard Levin is an attorney with the Levin Riback Law Group in Chicago, Illinois and is considered one of the leading trial lawyers both in Illinois and throughout the country. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.