Early Offer Bill May Unfairly Pressure Patients to Settle
Brunswick, GA (Law Firm Newswire) November 23, 2012 – New Jersey Assemblywoman Amy H. Handlin recently proposed a bill to reform how medical malpractice complaints can be settled to address a doctor shortage and reduce medical malpractice rates.
The bill, A-3293, is designed to offer injured patients, as well as their healthcare providers, the ability to use an “early offer” mediation process.
Bill A-3293 would enable medical injury claims to be resolved voluntarily in lieu of a lawsuit for parties wishing to settle their complaint quickly and without legal support.
Handlin stated that New Jersey continues to have issues attracting and holding onto high-quality physicians, due to the high rates for medical malpractice insurance. Using a process for Early Offer mediation is designed to lower medical malpractice rates, reducing both time and money spent on the legal system. Handlin predicts an eventual shortage of approximately 3,000 doctors in New Jersey without serious reform, as studies indicate that 1 in 10 doctors plan to leave New Jersey.
“While the concept of expedited payment may seem attractive to patients, it may not always be in their best interest to accept a settlement without discussing with an attorney the extent of what they may be legally entitled to,” stated Brunswick personal injury attorney Nathan Williams.
An injured patient would be able to request an “early offer” of settlement from their healthcare provider. If the request is accepted by the provider, they would work together to negotiate a settlement to reimburse the patient, based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Practitioner Data Bank severity scale for injuries, attorneys fees and economic losses.
A similar reform bill was enacted in New Hampshire, where, if the plaintiff chose to not to accept the early offer and opted to proceed to trial, the loser would be liable for both legal and court fees. While proponents of the bill support the early offer system as a way to lower medical malpractice insurance costs and streamline the tort system, critics of the early settlement systems are concerned that some patients may end up with low compensation figures and may feel pressured to give up legal rights without adequate representation.
Nathan Williams is a Brunswick personal injury lawyer, Brunswick divorce attorney, Brunswick criminal defense attorney and Brunswick DUI lawyer in Southeast Georgia. Visit http://www.thewilliamslitigationgroup.com or call 1.912.264.0848.
The Williams Litigation Group
5 St. Andrews Court
Brunswick, GA 31520
Toll Free: 877.307.4537
View Larger Map
- Distracted Driving Is Just As Dangerous As They Are Telling You It Is
People tend to text on their cell phone while they drive because they think they are better at multitasking than they really are. But studies about distracted driving continue to prove that people vastly overestimate how well they can manage multiple tasks and grossly underestimate how easily they can become distracted. Researchers studied how well distracted drivers can respond to a changing environment, such as driving while texting, or driving while carrying on a conversation. Their study confirmed that people are not only worse than they think at juggling multiple visual distractions – they also seriously overestimate their overall ability [...]
- Children and Car Safety With Buckle Up for Life
A new program, Buckle Up for Life, is working to educate parents about car safety. Funded in part by automaker Toyota, Buckle Up is working with communities nationwide to get parents to correctly restrain their children in car seats according to safety and manufacturing standards. The program runs six weeks, and covers car seat and booster seat placement, safety and injury concerns. The Buckle Up program also distributes car seats to attendees, and experts demonstrate the correct way to install car seats and booster seats with child safety restraints and seatbelts. According to researchers at the University Of Michigan, in [...]
- Distracted Driving Causes Accidents
According to crash statistics available from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving continues to be an ongoing issue throughout the U.S. Recent data from the NHTSA indicates a steady, nationwide increase in incidents of text messaging while driving, despite laws prohibiting the same. Meanwhile, a new report by US Mobile Data Market, Update Q3 2012, suggests that there has been a drop in the number of texts sent each month by users via cell phone, from an average of 699 texts sent during the second quarter of 2012, to just 678 in the third quarter. While some [...]