The Law Reform Commission is
opposing the government’s push to cap medical malpractice awards at
Attorney General Sam Bulgin
asked the commission – which is chaired by Langston Sibblies – to look into tort
reform, specifically on capping non-economic medical malpractice awards and
reducing the amount of time in which patients can sue medical practitioners for
In relation to the damages
caps, the commission stated in a public consultation paper released Tuesday:
“It is the belief of the LRC that the courts of the Cayman Islands continue to
be the more appropriate arbiters in terms of assessing and awarding damages
based on principles of justice and having regard to the specific circumstances
of each case.
“The findings of the LRC do
not support what may be construed as a proposal to implement a fundamental
change in the legal system in the Cayman Islands.”
The commission also pointed
out that reducing statues of limitations on personal injury cases could be
unfair to plaintiffs who may be unaware of the existence of an injury or of its
severity during the limitation period. The Law Reform Commission had been asked
to look into a proposal to reduce the limitation time from three years to one
“We are of the view that the
current three year period applicable to personal injury claims is appropriate,
especially since there is no evidence to suggest that it is or has been
prejudicial to litigants and it does not represent a departure from modern
existing legislative trends dealing with limitation periods,” the commission
“Further, the LRC is not of
the opinion that a distinct limitation period for medical professionals and
institutions can be justified on the basis that the Limitation Law has had an
adverse effect on medical malpractice litigation,” it said.
The commission released its
findings as part of a consultation paper, on which members of the public and
interested parties are invited to comment and submit their views by 19
There is currently no limit
to what a court can award a person suing for medical malpractice or negligence,
but the Law Reform Commission stated that it had been told by Grand Court
judges that, unlike in the US, non-economic damages make up only a small
portion of the total awards paid out to plaintiffs.
Non-economic damages refer to
pain, suffering and loss of amenities in personal injury cases, rather than the
loss of past and future earnings or medical expenses.
The commission looked at
proposals to amend the Torts (Reform) Law (1996 Revision) to cap malpractice
awards at $500,000 and to amend the Limitation Law (1996 Revision) to reduce
the limitation period from three years to one year; to reduce the period of
time to sue for wrongful death from three years to two years; and to reduce the
ultimate limitation period for certain negligent actions from 15 years to 10
Instead, the commission
recommends doubling the ultimate limitation period to 30 years, and not
changing the limitation period for wrongful death or personal injury.
The LRC had also been asked
to look into reducing the limitation period for minors to one year after they
reach the age of majority, but the commission said that limit should be
increased to three or six years.
Read much more about this
Thursday’s Caymanian Compass….