Gov’t advisors against $500,000 lawsuit cap

The Law Reform Commission is
opposing the government’s push to cap medical malpractice awards at
$500,000. 

 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
malpractice. 

 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
year. 

 “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
stated.  

 “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
November. 

 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
years. 

 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…. 

1 COMMENT

  1. Another example of an Attorney General that is doing everything necessary against the well being of the people of the Cayman Islands. Why not just simply resign?
    I commend the Law Reform Commission for STANDING UP TO HIM.
    It is rather shameful that an individual working in this capacity would even conceive the thought to undermine the value of our people to reducing the CAP for medical malpractice to a measly $500,000.It is even more disgraceful that the AG would dare to even consider reducing the wrongful death from three years to two years and the time for bringing a malpractice lawsuit from three years to one year.
    There are individuals that have been injured 5 years ago and medical treatment and discovery of damage is still ongoing. You have a nerve!

    The public should stand up to this Attorney General and let him know that this is totally unacceptable. It is even more shameful that legislators like Mr Ezzard Miller who claims to be interested in the well fare of the people of the Cayman Islands would not even come forward with a rebuttal to this recent report of the Ag’s plan that will indeed work against the favor of the people of the Cayman Islands and their overall well being.

    Mr. McLaughlin, Alden, Kurt Tibitts all opposition should be on top of this like eagles on a piece of meat where are you?!

    This is very sickening. A Banana Republic? Yes We Are!

  2. If there is no cap on punitive damages then we will be just like the states. Healthcare costs through the roof as doctors order a slew of unnecessary tests just to be sure they dont get sued.

    We are talking about excess damages. People can still get $500k PLUS all of their lost future income PLUS all of their future medical costs.

    How do Drs pay for these lawsuits? They have insurance. How do Insurance companies pay for them? They charge the doctors (and you and me) higher premiums.

    We are trying to attract new hospitals to the island to boost our economy. Tort reform would make us a far more attractive location and we would end up with better doctors being attracted here.

    I do agree with the LRC on the statutes of limitations. If you are injured you should be able to make a claim – it just shouldn’t be an excessive amount.

  3. Happy day Cayman.. The US insurers have been trying to establish a cap on malpractice for decades. One of the biggest lobby in the world has again failed to hog tie the people’s right of fair compensation. Although this very ruling/recommendation may jeopardize the planned hospital, it would be unfair for Cayman to set such a precedence for the world in limiting malpractice suit in the name of economics.

  4. Reality Check,

    Here’s Your real reality check.

    EXCESSIVE DAMAGES SUFFERED BY THE POOR HELPLESS VICTIMS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES OR WHO’S HEALTH HAS BEEN ALTERED AND DESTROYED BECAUSE OF MALPRACTICE QUALIFIES FOR SATISFACTORY COMPENSATION.
    SOMETIMES THE VICTIM MAY BE HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD, THE BREADWINNER IS NOW UNABLE TO WORK OR HAS DIED AT THE HANDS OF RECKLESS PHYSICIANS.THEIR FAMILIES ARE LEFT TO SUFFER FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.
    THESE VICTIMS OF MALPRACTICE AND OR FAMILIES LEFT BEHIND SHOULD BE WELL COMPENSATED.

    MALPRACTICE CASES WHERE PATIENTS HAVE SUFFERED ‘EXCESSIVE DAMAGES TO THEIR HEALTH"

    UNDISPUTEDLY WARRANTS ‘EXCESSIVE COMPENSATION!"

  5. The Attorney General did not wake up yesterday morning and lols ‘Well I think we’ll reduce the Mal Practice compensation Cap for Caymanians.’

    No! can’t you guess what really happened? Who keeps messing with the people?

    ‘m sure the UDP Leader put the AG up to this.

    What the people of the Cayman Islands needs to be concerned about is if certain political leaders will have a financially vested interest in the proposed Dr.Shetty Heart Institute and new Hospital.

    This should concern you for many many reasons which are frightening.

    You people have got some real serious problems what are you going to do about it. You have got to fix this.

    Editor’s note: This comment had to be edited for legal reasons.

  6. If me or my family suffers Excessive Damages to my health or their health at the hands of incompetent or reckless doctors, I WILL BE SEEKING FULL COMENSATION AND I MEAN MY CLAIM WILL BE EXCESSIVE EQUIVALENT OR MATCHING THE LEVEL OF DAMAGES SUFFERED!

    To put it simple:
    EXCESSIVE DAMAGES = EXCESSIVE MONETARY COMPENSATION PAY OUT!
    My life is worth a whole lot more than the AG’s measley $500,000 ! so doctors concentrate on what you are doing don’t leave the forceps inside of the patient while you and your girlfriend nurse take a break from the operating room – leaving the patient’s abdomen wide open to contract staff infection and DIE! this is on record go to GOOGLE! These things happen all the time and most of the time they get away with it by telling lies and perverting the medical records, withholding, or distorting them in attempt to cheat the patients and their families out of fair compensation. Some patients have had to go to court to demand Medical Records that were with held or perverted in attempt to cover up Medical MalPractice!

    It gets better, That’s not all, they pay off the lawyers that the patients hire to represent them! The lawyer becomes a DOUBLE AGENT BUT REALLY WORKING FOR THE INSURANCE COMPANY AND THE HOSPITAL! The little patient gets the bad end of the stick and suffers even more at the hands of a crooked lawyer who SWITCHED SIDES AND IS NOW WORKING FOR THE HOSPITAL AS AN INFORMATION AGENT against his patient/client! It gets better,The crooked hospital and doctors in turn pay the plaintiff’s lawyer under the table for his service to ‘NOT REPRESENT THE PATIENT or to down play the whole Malpractice claim!

    Caymanianians wake up. Do Not allow the UDP and this AG to screw you up like this. There’s more to this compensation cap than meets the eye. There’s the possibility that yo may have to WAIVE YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO A HUGE PAY OUT IN LEGAL FEES TO AN ATTORNEY FOR HIS SERVICE AS WELL! At the end of the day, because they are like sharks and they think they are your God if they represent you.They don’t realize they are hired BY YOU THE PLAINTIFF/PATIENT/VICTIM and should be WORKING FOR YOU! ! YOU AND YOUR FAMILY WALK AWAY FROM THE TABLE STILL STUCK WILL HUGE MEDICAL BILLS, YOU MAY BE deceased or now indigent, AND THE ATTORNEY LAUGHS ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK because he got 30-40% of your measly $500,000! he walks away with $200,000 of your $500,000 compensation payout. AND YOU ARE STUCK WITH $3million dollars worth of Medical Bills because the Insurance pay out for punitive damages and other claims is not enough to cover it all.

    This is serious business. EXPECT SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES FOR SERIOUS ACTS OF MALPRACTICE COMMITTED AGAINST THE POOR PATIENT VICTIMS AND THEIR FAMILIES LEFT BEHIND TO SUFFER!.

  7. $500,000 is a shame and scandal in the family.
    Woe is every Caymanian who accepts this horse manure, its and scandal in the family.

    I’m sure the AG is only phishing! he could never be serious.

  8. Remember folks – just because you put it IN BLOCK CAPITAL LETTERS it does not make it so. Also just becuse something is on Google or wikipedia does not make it true. You still need to verify stories you see/read in the media.

    When we first got TV here in the ’70s did some of the previous commentators actually believe aliens had landed on earth after they saw Star Trek?

    The term ‘Excessive Damages’ is a well known legal term that means Damages (i.e. cash money) paid to a victim that is excessive (i.e. too Much) and unreasonably great and not warranted by law. A medical patient cannot suffer excessive damages but they can be paid excessively. All harm to a patient through physisican malpractice is too much. Saying there can be excessive damages implies that some level of harm to a patient is acceptable.

    People are reading this article as the most you can get is $500k which is completely incorrect. If you were seriously hurt or even killed you or your estate would be allowed to get an appropriate level of compensation. Assuming you had a good lawyer you should be fully compensated for all of your lost income for the rest of your projected life expectancy (adjusted for raises and inflation) as well as all of your medical costs. The Dr may also be responsible for the attorney fees so you would get all of the settlement as intended. After all of this had been figured out you could then try to get your extra $500k of punitive damages so you can stick it to the man.