Lawmakers in Kentucky are hard at work trying to reform medical malpractice laws in the state. Critics of those changes, including Kentucky medical malpractice lawyers who fight on behalf of victims of negligence, say that these reforms are harming patients. Regardless of how the laws change, these lawyers will continue to advocate for patients who suffered because of negligent actions of medical professionals they trusted.
One reason for the changes is to reduce the costs of healthcare and malpractice insurance. The proponents of reform also claim that Kentucky ranks high among states that are hostile to physicians. If you find yourself harmed by a doctor or other care provider in Kentucky, the changing laws may make it more difficult to get justice. It is more important than ever to rely on the expertise of a malpractice lawyer to guide you.
Kentucky Medical Malpractice Laws
Kentucky medical malpractice lawyers are the experts that have the most experience and knowledge of the state’s malpractice laws. Patients who have been harmed can choose a good lawyer based on his or her expertise for guidance through the process, but it also helps to have a basic understanding of some of the laws in Kentucky.
The statute of limitations is important to be aware of, because patients who don’t know about it may miss the deadline to file a lawsuit and the opportunity to have a day in court. In Kentucky the statute of limitations is just one year, shorter than in most states. The one-year limit begins when the patient discovers or should have reasonably discovered the harm caused by a negligent act. Even with exceptions, there is a hard limit of five years.
While malpractice lawyers stay up to date on changes to the law on behalf of their clients, patients should also be aware of what is happening. A bill that would reform malpractice laws is currently going through the state legislature. If passed and signed into law, it would place caps on fees that malpractice lawyers charge their clients, the plaintiffs in negligence cases. It would also protect physicians and other medical professionals by prohibiting any expressions of sympathy or apology from being used as evidence against the defendant during a trial.
Another bill is working its way through the senate and would allow the state to institute caps on non-economic damages. Many states have this cap, while Kentucky currently does not. It means that the amount of money a lawyer can seek for a client for harm that cannot be monetized, like disfigurement or mental anguish, would be limited.
Kentucky’s Controversial Medical Review Panels
In 2017 Kentucky’s legislature passed a new law to reform how malpractice cases are filed. The law requires that plaintiffs and their lawyers submit their cases to a review panel before they can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is becoming a popular strategy in many states as part of an effort to reduce healthcare costs by reducing the number of frivolous lawsuits.
The medical review panels created by this new law look over evidence related to a potential lawsuit and form an opinion as to whether or not the plaintiff involved suffered from medical negligence and if the case has merit. Whichever side receives the favorable opinion must pay for the panel. The decision of the panel does not actually prevent the plaintiff from filing a lawsuit, but it is required before the filing can occur.
While many healthcare facilities supported the law, attorneys, patients, and patient advocates were against it. One reason is that the panel must have three medical professionals, but the law does not state that they have to be in a field related to the case at hand. So a specialist in dermatology may sit on a panel for a case involving lung cancer, for instance.
More controversial, though, is the fact that the review panel requirement makes it more difficult for genuine victims of malpractice to file a lawsuit and seek justice. Recently a Kentucky judge agreed that it was too much of an impediment. Judge Phillip Shepherd struck down the law in October of 2017, stating that the law is unconstitutional and prevents people from the right to seek “remedy by due course of law.” The governor’s administration is appealing the decision and taking it to the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Medical Malpractice Cases in Kentucky
Kentucky medical malpractice lawyers in Kentucky work to get justice for their clients, to help victims of negligence hold responsible people accountable, and to help them recover the damages they need for medical and other expenses. There are some notable cases in the state, including one brought and settled by a Louisville anchorwoman, Dawne Gee.
Gee sued Baptist Health Louisville in 2015 after being treated in the emergency room in 2014. She had leg pain and a family history of blood clots, so went to the emergency room for help. At the time, she already had a port device implanted to allow access to blood vessels. In her lawsuit, Gee and her lawyers claimed that the nurses in the ER used the port incorrectly causing swelling and pain. Gee said she protested and told them they were doing it wrong, but they ignored her. The case was settled, but the terms were not made public.
Another high profile case involved a nursing home and a patient who was treated negligently by staff in McCracken County. The lawsuit states that the man fell, but that this was not disclosed to the family. The nursing home staff tried to cover up the accident, and the case alleges, did not treat the man with dignity or respect, that they destroyed medical records, and that they caused pain and suffering. The jury in the trial awarded the man $25 million, but it is likely to be reduced by the judge.
How to Find a Kentucky Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Finding the right malpractice lawyer to work with your or on behalf of a family member is one of the most important things you can do to make sure your case has a good chance of success. Start by narrowing your options down to lawyers and firms that only work on malpractice cases. These are the legal experts who have the most knowledge and experience in medical negligence.
From those options, interview the lawyers you like to find out what they can do for you and what they have to offer. Find out about specific experiences with malpractice cases, whether or not they have gone to trial, the outcomes of the cases they have filed, and any references from previous clients. These will give you a good idea of what the lawyer or legal team can do for you and whether or not they are right for handling your case. Malpractice cases can be consuming, complicated, and lengthy, and to get the justice you need, it is important to work with the best malpractice attorney.