New Proposed Ohio Law: Admissions of Fault by a Doctor Are Not Admissible at Trial
Ohio's current "apology statute" makes expressions of sentiment inadmissible, but statements of fact that the doctor committed a medical error are admissible.
November 02, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- New Proposed Ohio Law: Admissions of Fault by a Doctor Are Not Admissible at Trial
Article provided by Greene & Eisen, Co. L.P.A.
Visit us at http://www.malpracticeohio.com
House Bill 276 says that a doctor's admission to the patient (or the patient's family) that the doctor committed a medical error or is at fault would not be admissible in court. In other words, a patient who brings a medical malpractice case to trial cannot tell the jury that the doctor actually has admitted fault.
Ohio's current "apology statute" makes expressions of sentiment inadmissible, but statements of fact that the doctor committed a medical error are admissible. The current statute strikes a fair balance by allowing doctors to apologize or express sympathy to a patient without the fear that it will be misconstrued as an admission of fault.
Medical Malpractice Trials
In medical malpractice trials, the jury is asked to determine whether the physician or hospital committed a medical error. In nearly all of these cases, the physician denies any wrongdoing. In rare cases, however, the doctor may have admitted to the patient - before a lawsuit has been filed - that the doctor had made a medical mistake.
After a lawsuit has been filed, the doctor's insurance company takes over the defense of the case. Whether the doctor wants to admit fault or compensate the patient is no longer the doctor's decision. The doctor must "cooperate" with his insurance company, or else the insurance company will not agree to provide coverage.
The Insurance Industry
The less money insurance companies must pay out to claimants, the more money they can keep as profits. Therefore, it is easy to see why insurance companies do not want to be saddled with a doctor's admission of fault to the patient. Obviously, it would be much more difficult to convince the jury that the doctor did not make a mistake when the doctor already has admitted that he was at fault.
But why is the Ohio legislature so eager to provide even more protections to doctors and insurance companies? After all, the "Tort Reform" legislation that has been in existence for ten years already has "capped" the amount of money patients can receive - regardless of the jury's actual award. In addition, several other provisions of Tort Reform have made it extremely difficult for a patient even to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit, let alone to win.
The ultimate goal of Tort Reform is not just to reduce the amount of medical malpractice claims or the amount of money victims can recover. Instead, the end game is to strip away all of the rights of victims of medical mistakes, and to eliminate medical malpractice claims altogether. House Bill 276 is just one more step in that direction.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a serious medical error, do not wait to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney. Because of the strict, one-year statute of limitations for medical malrpactice claims, waiting even one extra day to contact an attorney could mean the difference between bringing a lawsuit and being forever barred from doing so.
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