TO REFORM THE LAWS RELATING TO MEDICAL LIABILITY BY PROVIDING LIMITED PROTECTION FROM LIABILITY TO THOSE PROVIDING EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE, BY AUTHORIZING THE BIFURCATION OF TRIALS ON ISSUES OF LIABILITY AND DAMAGES IN CERTAIN ACTIONS, BY LIMITING THE AMOUNT OF NONECONOMIC DAMAGES THAT MAY BE AWARDED, BY AUTHORIZING THE PERIODIC PAYMENT OF FUTURE ECONOMIC DAMAGES IN LIEU OF A LUMP-SUM PAYMENT, AND BY MODIFYING APPEAL BONDS IN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACTIONS.
This act is effective October 1, 2011.
Senate committee substitute makes the following changes to 1st edition. Amends GS 90-21.12(a) to clarify that in any medical malpractice action, the defendant health care provider is not liable for the payment of damages unless the trier of fact finds by the greater weight of the evidence that the care provided by the health care provider was not in accordance with the standard of practice among members of the same health care profession with similar training and experience situated in the same or similar communities under the same or similar circumstances at the time of the alleged act or omission giving rise to the cause of action.
Clarifies that in any medical malpractice action arising from the furnishing or the failure to furnish services mandated under 42 USC Section 1395dd for an emergency medical condition as defined in 42 USC Section 1395dd(e)(1) (was, any medical malpractice action arising from providing emergency services as defined in GS 58-3-190(g)(2)), the defendant health care provider is not liable for damages unless the trier of fact finds by the greater weight of the evidence that the health care provider’s deviation from the standard of care required under GS 90-21.12(a) (was, failed to meet the applicable standards of practice) constituted gross negligence, wanton conduct or intentional wrongdoing. Amends proposed GS 90-21.19 to limit the total liability for noneconomic damages for which judgment is entered against all defendants to no more than $500,000 (was, $250,000) per plaintiff. States that judgment will not be entered against any defendant for noneconomic damages in excess of $500,000 for all claims brought by all parties arising out of the same cause of action.
Amends the definition for future economic damages to include loss of future household services. Requires the finder of fact to specify what part of the amount awarded for future economic damages is awarded for loss of future earnings or loss of future household services. Permits the payment of future economic damages, to be made periodically at regular intervals to the plaintiff if the present value of the future economic damages is greater than or equal to $200,000 (was, $75,000). Permits the court that entered the original judgment to also modify the judgment to allow liability for future periodic payments compensating the plaintiff for loss of future household services (was, only for the loss of future earnings), to continue to be paid to the survivors to whom the plaintiff owed a duty of support under the law immediately prior to the plaintiff’s death.
Amends proposed GS 90-21.19B to require that any verdict or award of damages in a medical malpractice action must also include the specific amount awarded for loss of future earnings and loss of future household services (was, only required specific amounts for noneconomic damages, present economic damages, and future economic damages).
Adds new section to amend GS 1A-1, Rule 9(j) to assert that any complaint alleging medical malpractice, as defined in GS 90-21.11, will be dismissed unless the pleading specifically asserts that the medical care and all medical records pertaining to the alleged injury have been reviewed by a person who is reasonably expected to qualify as an expert witness under Rule 702 of the Rules of Evidence and whom the plaintiff will seek to have qualified as an expert witness by motion under Rule 702(e) of the Rules of Evidence. Requires that the plaintiff provide an affidavit within 30 days from the expert witness certifying compliance with this subsection upon request from the defendant. Deletes language regarding proof of compliance with regard to interrogatories.
Adds new section to amend GS 1A-1, Rule 26(f1) to require that for each expert witness designated as such at the discovery conference, each witness must prepare and submit a written, signed report. Specifies material to be covered in the expert witness report and additional information to be submitted as to the expert witness qualifications.
All of the above provisions apply to causes of action arising on or after the effective date, October 1, 2011.
Amends GS 1-289 to provide that in an action where the judgment requires a monetary payment, the court is to specify the amount of the monetary payment required to stay the execution of the judgment while an appeal is pending as provided in subsections (a2) and (b) of GS 1-289. Deletes previous provision that the appellant in a medical malpractice action pay the lesser amount of the judgment or the appellant’s medical malpractice coverage in order to stay the execution of the judgment while pursuing an appeal. Applies to actions commencing on or after the effective date, October 1, 2011.
Provides that if the provisions regarding setting liability limits for noneconomic damages (Section 3 of the act) are declared unconstitutional or otherwise invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, following any appellate review, then proposed GS 90-21.19A, (periodic payment of future economic damages in medical malpractice actions), and proposed GS 90-21.19B, (verdicts and awards of damages in medical malpractice actions) are repealed but the invalidity does not affect the other provisions of the act.
Makes other technical changes. Makes additional conforming changes and amends the title to reflect changes to the bill content.