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Bill Would Change CO Malpractice Handling

March 10, 2008

Denver, CO - Injuries from medical malpractice can sometimes last a lifetime, and Colorado has one of the tightest caps in the West on the amount of damages malpractice victims can receive when they sue for physical impairment and/or disfigurement. Denver attorney Natalie Brown says the caps were imposed to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

"Juries in Colorado are never told about the caps and despite that, we don't have these runaway, crazy jury verdicts that you hear about."

Senate Bill 164 would raise the cap on "non-economic damages" and allow victims to receive larger financial settlements for justified claims of impairment and disfigurement. Opponents argue it would raise overall health care costs and malpractice insurance premiums, but Brown explains there's a wealth of data that shows caps on damage amounts do nothing to reduce health care and insurance costs.

"Those are, frankly, myths to try and scare the people of this state. Nobody knows when they're going to become a member of the 'victims' club.'"

Brown worries the current caps and other limitations often mean victims are not awarded enough to preserve their quality of life.

"People have to take the money they receive from settlements due to pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life and use it to pay for rent, food, transportation and other basic necessities."

The bill is currently working its way through the Colorado General Assembly.

Eric Mack/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - CO