Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Oklahoma Malpractice Claims Frequency at 10-Year Low

The number of medical malpractice cases in Oklahoma has dropped dramatically in the last two years to its lowest point in more than a decade. Many attribute the steep decline in medical malpractice verdicts to 2009 tort reforms that eliminated the state’s system of joint-and-several liability as well as reduced the dollar amount of its non-economic damage cap from $400,000 to $350,000 and applied to all cases of medical negligence.

In addition to abolishing joint-and-several liability in medical malpractice cases and ratcheting down the dollar value of Missouri’s non-economic damage cap, the legislation gave judges greater latitude to dismiss medical malpractice lawsuits that lacked merit and required a certificate of merit prior to filing a medical malpractice claim. According to federal statistics, medical malpractice payments in Oklahoma have dropped 28 percent since the legislation was signed into law in 2009.

The 2009 tort reforms strengthened Oklahoma’s Affordable Access to Healthcare Act, which was signed into law in 2003. These potent reforms were enacted during the most recent medical malpractice insurance crisis, when medical malpractice rates were skyrocketing across the country and the number of companies offering malpractice coverage began to shrink.

Medical malpractice insurance premiums had jumped by 30 to 60 percent between 2002 and 2003. In response, a medical malpractice liability task force was formed with the expectation of finding solutions to the growing burden on Oklahoma’s healthcare community. The task force included members from the Oklahoma medical community, nursing home industry and legal profession.

The heart of the Affordable Access to Healthcare Act was its non-economic damage cap for obstetric cases as well as those that originated in the emergency room. The 2009 tort reforms created a cap in all cases of medical liability.

The non-economic damage cap has been an effective deterrent to the filing of medical malpractice cases because with recoverable damages limited, trial lawyers are much less willing to take on cases with low success potential.

Oklahoma Tort Reform Adds Cap

Side Note: Building on tort reform that began in 2009, the state of Oklahoma has moved forward again with actions that will surely further improve the climate for physicians in that state. On April 5, Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law several new med mal reform measures.

One of the most significant aspects of the new legislation was a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages. Both the Oklahoma State Medical Association and the American Medical Association were in support of the cap. We here at MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com, too, were in support of the cap. As physician advocates, we support caps on non-economic damages and believe that they result in many positive effects for both physicians and patients in the states in which they have been enacted. Most relevant to us, and our physicians, is the fact that med mal insurance rates often decrease after med mal caps are put in place. We hope to see Oklahoma med mal insurance rates decrease as a result. If you would like to see a history of Oklahoma physician liability insurance rates for the past ten years, we track that information and have it available on our website for our physicians to review.

Also worth noting was the elimination of “joint and several liability.” This is the concept that a defendant could possibly be responsible for a patient’s full damages, no matter what their percentage of responsibility or “degree of fault” for the injury. While it is probably obvious, we believe that physicians should only have to pay their “fair share” of damages –damages that are proportional to their level of involvement and responsibility in the case.

These most recent changes, along with the changes put in place in 2009, make Oklahoma an appealing state to practice. Good job, Oklahoma!

See if we can lower your Oklahoma liability policy rates. Complete our no-obligation quote request today.

Oklahoma enacts cap on noneconomic damages
By Alicia Gallegos
Posted Apr 25, 2011
From amednews.com

Physician reviewing new lawOklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law a series of tort reform measures, including a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in civil liability cases. The Oklahoma State Medical Assn. said the cap is a victory in its fight for comprehensive medical liability reforms.

Fallin said in a statement that the reforms will lessen burdens on medical professionals and increase access to care for patients.

Click for the whole article.