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H.R. 5 Approved by House Judiciary Committee

February 28, 2011

The Unites States House Judiciary Committee has just voted to approve H.R. 5, which is also known as the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare Act. Proponents of the bill claim it will reduce rising health care costs and has received support from many House Republicans and some House Democrats.

Under H. R. 5, supporters of the bill aim to restrict compensatory damages in a lawsuit to $250,000 for non-economic damages. If this bill becomes law, a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer would only be able to sue for this amount of money for pain and suffering incurred by any type of medical error.

The bill also aims to establish a national statute of limitations defining how long a person has to file a malpractice lawsuit from the date that the incident occurred. Finally, the bill would place limitations on an attorney' fees in a health care lawsuit.

This bill is predicted to pass in the House as long as it maintains its current level of support. However, initial findings indicate that H.R. 5 faces a lot of opposition from Democrats in the Senate. Those that are opposed to this bill are specifically at odds with the cap placed on non-economic damages. These damages pertain to any compensation that is awarded for emotional pain and suffering stemming from medical error, physical impairment, or disfigurement.

Although the President has recently called for malpractice law liability reform in his State of the Union address, he is in opposition of placing caps on non-economic damages.

A number of patient' rights advocates have pointed out many lawsuits in which the $250,000 cap would simply not suffice and serve as a substantial enough amount of money given the level of emotional pain and suffering caused by the medical error. Many of the lawsuits that patients' rights advocates are using to illustrate their cause have been filed on behalf of people with birth defects that have caused severe impairment that will last the victim for life.

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