Volume 4, Number 28 - October 7, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Constitutional Amendments: Tort Reform
When Wyoming voters head to the polls on Nov. 2, they’ll be voting on two constitutional amendments that address medical liability reform. Several political action committees have been established to advance support or opposition to the amendments. For unbiased information, the Wyoming Bar Association has devoted part of its website to providing information about the amendments. That site can be found at www.wyomingbar.org
What the ballot will say is this:
Amendment C: This amendment would allow the Wyoming legislature to enact laws requiring alternative dispute resolution or medical panel review before a person files a lawsuit against a health care provider for injury or death.
Amendment D: This amendment would allow the Wyoming legislature to enact laws limiting the amount of damages for noneconomic loss that could be awarded for injury or death caused by a health care provider. “Noneconomic loss” generally includes, but is not limited to, losses such as pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and other losses the claimant is entitled to recover as damages under general law.
This amendment will not in any way affect the recovery of damages for economic loss under Wyoming law. “Economic loss” generally includes, but is not limited to, monetary losses such as past and future medical expenses, loss of past and future earnings, loss of use of property, costs of repair or replacement, the economic value of domestic services, loss of employment or business opportunities.
This amendment will not in any way affect the recovery of any additional damages known under Wyoming law as exemplary or punitive damages, which are damages allowed by law to punish a defendant and to deter persons from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
Partnership to Protect Affordable Healthcare is a broad group, including the Wyoming Medical Society, focused on passage of the amendments. Their website is found at www.YesforHealthcare.org.
This group asserts that Wyoming is a “crisis” state because of skyrocketing medical liability insurance rates for doctors and hospitals, driving doctors out of Wyoming and threatening access to care.
The Citizens for Real Insurance Reform actively oppose the amendments. Their website can be found at www.curewyoming.org.
They assert that doctor shortages are not related to the malpractice insurance issue and capping non-economic damages has no effect on medical malpractice insurance premiums.
From the Wyoming Bar Association:
Contrary to the impression recently left with the Wyoming
Legislature, the total number of physicians in direct patient care has grown slowly but steadily over the last 14 years. There is, of course, fluctuation in certain specialties and in some counties that is not reflected by the following numbers.
Statistics provided by the Wyoming Board of Medicine.
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