Tort Reform Contributes to Better Health Care

By October 2, 2007Briefly Legal, Health Care

First steps are good steps.

In a rare development, North Carolina physicians and trial lawyers found common ground on a new law that caps damages in medical liability cases that go to arbitration. But doctors see the measure as just the first step toward more comprehensive reforms.

On Aug. 31 Gov. Mike Easley signed the Voluntary Arbitration of Health Care Claims Act. It places a $1 million limit on total damages in medical liability cases when both parties agree to resolve their dispute through binding arbitration. The law requires attorneys on both sides to discuss the option to arbitrate with the parties involved. It also outlines a host of mechanisms designed to resolve claims more quickly and less expensively than traditional litigation. The statute will take effect Jan. 1, 2008.

“This is a strong start to a conversation about tort reform, and that’s as important as anything right now,” said Chip Baggett, legislative relations director for the North Carolina Medical Society, which backed the law.

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