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Lawmakers trump veto of medical malpractice changes
Tuesday, 26 July 2011 10:14

(RALEIGH) -- State lawmakers approved changes that makes it harder for patients to sue emergency room doctors and cap the amount juries can award for most medical injuries.

The House voted 74-42 to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue. The bill won support from eight House Democrats, who crossed party lines to support the GOP-penned reform. The Senate voted to trump the veto last week.

The measure would limit victim’s awards for pain and suffering to $500,000. It also increases the legal standard needed to prove that emergency room physicians were negligent.

Republicans said the bill will drive down frivolous lawsuits that increase the cost of practicing medicine. “This bill will provide North Carolinians with more access to affordable health care, while at the same time safeguarding the rights of injured people to have their day in court,” House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said in a prepared statement.

But opponents said the cap on non-economic damages goes too far. Likewise, they argued that it would undermine a person’s legal rights and jeopardize public safety.

"The most severely injured patients are not protected by this bill," said House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange. "It discriminates against them, children, stay-at-home mothers and the elderly - people who in the tough, tough parlance of the courtroom have no economic value. I think it's a shame and I think we should stop."

The vote on medical malpractice changes marked the third veto that Republican lawmakers have successfully overridden this week.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 July 2011 00:00


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