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Joplin Personal Injury Law Blog

What is the importance of non-economic damages in med mal cases? P.2

In our previous post, we began speaking about non-economic damages in the context of medical malpractice litigation. Last time, we spoke about situations or reasons why noneconomic damages can be important in medical malpractice litigation: cases, for example, where the medical costs resulting from negligence are not particularly significant, and cases where the specific injury to the patient either is not intimately tied up with the patient’s ability to earn money or where the patient’s income at the time the injury occurred is not that significant.

Compensatory damages can be awarded for many different types of economic losses, and the more of these losses a patient has as a result of a physician’s negligence, the better chance the patient will have, as a plaintiff, of being awarded a significant amount of compensatory damages in medical malpractice litigation.

What is the importance of non-economic damages in med mal cases? P.1

In our last post, we mentioned a case which has been appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court involving the issue of whether a 2005 tort reform law bars non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases involving allegations of wrongful death. The case is certainly an important one since it will help define the extent of damages available to medical malpractice plaintiffs in these cases.

Non-economic damages, as we mentioned last time, can be an important means of compensating plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases, particularly when economic damages do not adequately compensate the plaintiff, for one reason or another. This can certainly be true for an injured patient, but it can also be true for the surviving family members of a deceased patient. 

Appeal involves issue of noneconomic damages in wrongful death med mal cases

Noneconomic damages can be a very important aspect of medical malpractice litigation, particularly in cases where economic damages are—for whatever reason—not adequate to justly compensate an injured patient. Unfortunately, some states put caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, including Missouri.

At present, there is a court challenge to a state law capping the amount of noneconomic damages plaintiffs may receive in medical malpractice cases. The 2005 law capped noneconomic damages is medical malpractice cases at $350,000, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that caps on noneconomic damages were unconstitutional. That was a personal injury case, however, and the issue on appeal is whether the cap applies in medical malpractice cases involving allegations of wrongful death. 

Proposal to increase trucking weight limit struck down in House

When it comes to improving highway safety, no stone should be left unturned. One particularly important stone is trucking safety, and federal regulators, it seems, are continually working to work at improvements in this area.

One of the more recent issues under consideration in this area is whether lawmakers should change federal law so that states could allow heavier trucks on their roads. At present, federal law limits trucks to 80,000 pounds, but a group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives had proposed to increase that limit to 91,000 pounds. 

Causation an important issue in medical malpractice litigation

In our last post, we began speaking about a medical malpractice case in which the family of a man who died of cancer is suing a physician who failed to detect the presence of cancer. The family is claiming that the physician’s negligence meets the causation requirement because the man lost the opportunity to receive treatment that would have likely extended his life a number of months. On the defense side, the argument is that the man’s death was in sight, and that the factor of causation was therefore not satisfied.

The issue of causation can be an important one in medical malpractice litigation, not only when there is a dispute about the proper test for causation but also when there are multiple factors contributing to a patient’s injuries.  These multiple factors can potentially include not only the actions of the physician, but also the actions or omissions of other healthcare providers, as well as the patient’s own condition. 

Malpractice liability for untimely death of terminal patient?

In any medical malpractice case, there are four general elements that must be proven. These are: duty; breach; causation; and harm. While public discussion of medical malpractice tends to focus a lot on the elements of duty and breach, causation is a very important aspect of any medical malpractice case.

Proving that a physician breached a recognized standard of care and that the patient suffered harm is not enough in medical malpractice litigation. It must also be proven that there is a sufficient connection between the physician’s breach and the harm suffered by the patient. This sufficient connection is otherwise known as “proximate cause.” 

Should private mail delivery drivers be exempt from fatigue-preventing safety rule? P.2

In our previous post, we began speaking about a request made by an organization representing private mail carriers for an exemption from the 14-hour limit rule. The rule is one of so-called “hours of service” rules under federal law which puts limits on how much time commercial motor vehicle drivers can spend behind the wheel in any one work day or work week.

The hours of service rules are important not only as a means of ensuring highway safety with respect to the trucking industry, but also as a means of holding truck drivers and their employers accountable. When a trucker fails to abide by federal driving time limits and his or her employer fails to ensure compliance with these rules, his or her accident victims can use this noncompliance as evidence in personal injury litigation. 

Should private mail delivery drivers be exempt from fatigue-preventing safety rule?

As readers may know, truck safety is a topic that is in the news quite a lot, especially the issue of truck driver fatigue. This is good, because trucking safety is something that concerns everybody, and it is in all of our interests that drivers and companies bound by federal truck safety regulations follow these rules.

One of the important federal rules aimed at preventing truck driver fatigue prevents commercial motor vehicle drivers from operating for more than 14 hours without taking rest. The rule, known as the 14-hour limit, prevents truckers from driving beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty after taking 10 consecutive hours off duty. Under the rule, off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period. 

Seek assistance of experienced legal counsel after accident

Distracted driving is ubiquitous in the United States, and is an issue with which every state is currently struggling. Here in Missouri, particularly in Southwest Missouri, there is also a problem with distracted driving, and given that the number of highway fatalities over the last year has significantly increased, it wouldn’t be surprising if increased distracted driving had something to do with it.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, texting and driving is the most common form of distracted driving, but as the Missouri State Highway Patrol is keen to point out, it is certainly not the only form. Distracted driving can include a wide variety of driving behaviors that lead to cognitive, visual or physical distraction.

One important reason to work with an experienced med mal attorney: gathering evidence

Last time, we began speaking about the potential importance increased documentation of medical care and surgical procedures could play in reducing the incidence of medical malpractice in the United States. As we noted, the suggestion that health care providers routinely tape surgeries and other procedures has certainly been met with some resistance, understandably so.

For one thing, routine video documentation of health care delivery could potentially provide a significant avenue for holding physicians accountable for failing to meet standards of care in the delivery of health care services. In any medical malpractice case, one of the potential challenges is gaining access to information that can be used to prove a physician’s liability.