Medical Liability Reforms Take Effect on October 1

Provisions of Senate Bill 33—Medical Liability Reforms will take effect on Saturday, October 1, 2011, in North Carolina. Included is the provision that places a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages like pain and suffering. The cap is subject to periodic adjustment for inflation. Injured patients will be able to recover full medical costs, lost income and other economic damages associated with their injury.

“There may be a flurry of lawsuits right before the new law takes effect, as plaintiff’s lawyers try to protect their fees,” said NCMS Executive Vice President, CEO Robert W. Seligson, responding to a reporter’s question this week. “Most likely people will not see any immediate effect.  However, over time, we do expect a positive impact in the reduction of unnecessary costs associated with medical malpractice litigation. This in turn will help to control health care costs and assure access to care for patients.”

The key provisions of Senate Bill 33 can be viewed at: http://www.ncmedsoc.org/government_affairs/sb_33.html.

The NCMS led a coalition of medical and business interests that fought for medical liability reforms in the 2011 legislative session. The General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 33 on June 9, but Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed the measure on June 24. That sparked an intense, three-week campaign to override the veto. The coalition of supporters worked around the clock lobbying key legislators to support the override.  The Senate voted for the override on July 11, and the House put SB 33 into law when it voted to override the veto on July 25.

When the law takes effect, North Carolina will be among more than 30 states that have adopted medical liability reforms.

Related stories:

SB 33 – Medical Liability Reforms: The Power of Organized Medicine (Bulletin, 8-5-11)

Victory! SB 33 – Medical Liability Reforms Becomes Law in North Carolina (Bulletin, 7-29-11)

 
 

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