Medical caps on damages in medical malpractice cases have long been favored by lobbyist, insurance companies, among others. In recent months there has been more and more talk on legislation regarding medical caps. What people who favored medical caps seem to forget is that they too may one they be subjected to the same caps they so insistently favor and lobby. Such an example is Frank Cornelius.
Frank Cornelius was an insurance lobbyist from the state of Indiana who in 1975 helped pass a legislation imposing a $500,000.00 cap on damages awards in cases of medical malpractice. What Cornelius never expected to happened, happened, he was a victim of his own reform. He suffered a knee injury and then serious complications after the surgery, prompting him to file a lawsuit. His damages were estimated at 5 million dollars, but he only received $500,000.00 because of the same law he helped passed. Cornelius published an article titled “Crushed by My Own Reform” where he shares his story and what his opinion on medical caps after his experience.
The following is an extract of his article:
Today, from my wheelchair, I rue that that accomplishment. Here is my story.
On February 22, 1989, I underwent routine arthroscopic surgery after injuring my left knee in a fall. The day I left the hospital, I experienced a great deal of pain and called the surgeon several times. He called back the next day and told my wife to get me a bedpan. He then left on a skiing trip. I sought out another surgeon, who immediately diagnosed my condition as a reflex sympathetic dystrophy – a degenerative nervous disorder brought on by trauma or infection, often during surgery…..
At the age of 49, I am told that I have less than two years to live.
My medical expenses and lost wages, projected to retirement if I should live that long, come to more than $5 million. Claims against the hospital and physical therapist have been settled for a total of $500,000 – the limit on damages for a single incident of malpractice. The Legislature has raised that cap to $750,000, and I may be able to college some extra damages if I can sue those responsible for the August 1990 incident the nearly killed me. But apparently because of bureaucratic inertia, the state medical panel that certifies such claims has yet to act on mine.
The kicker, of course, is that I fought to enact the very law that limits my compensation. All my suffering might have been worthwhile, on some cosmic scale, if the law had accomplished its stated purpose. But it hasn’t…. Frank Cornelius, “Crushed by My Own Reform”, October 7, 1994.
Not only do medical caps affect plaintiffs but do not, in any way or form, stop medical malpractice. Something to be considered by those in favored of instating caps on damages awards.