New Hampshire Gov. Vetoes Early Offer Medical Malpractice Bill
On June 20, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch vetoed a bill that would have established an “Early Offer” program for dealing with medical malpractice claims. New Hampshire would have been the first state to establish such a program.
Under the vetoed Early Offer bill, after filing a claim of medical malpractice against a doctor or hospital, the doctor or hospital would be able to make an early cash settlement offer rather than go to jury trial. The injured patient would meet with an advisor on whether or not to continue with jury trial and have five days to decide whether or not to take the early offer. If the early offer is turned down by the plaintiff in favor of a jury trial, and the jury returns a verdict that is less than the early cash settlement offer, the plaintiff would have to pay the legal fees of the healthcare professional or hospital he or she sued in court.
The New Hampshire Medical Society championed this Early Offer bill as a tool to help reduce the high cost of New Hampshire’s medical malpractice insurance. Oddly, and tellingly, two of the state’s insurers of medical professional liability opposed the Early Offer bill, warning that it could actually cause medical malpractice insurance premiums increase.
Gov. Lynch did say the he believed the Early Offer bill had good intentions, and he hopes that the New Hampshire legislature continues to work on legislation that would help reduce the cost of medical malpractice insurance for the state’s healthcare workers.