Bill Proposed to Limit Medical Malpractice Damages

January 27, 2011 ( – U.S. House lawmakers have introduced a bill that would limit damages in medical malpractice cases, a move many say would lower health care costs.

Under the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare Act of 2011 (H.R. 5), in any health care lawsuit, the amount of noneconomic damages, if available, may be as much as $250,000, regardless of the number of parties against whom the action is brought or the number of separate claims or actions brought with respect to the same injury.  

In addition, the bill provides that the total of all contingent fees attorneys can get for representing all claimants in a health care lawsuit cannot exceed: 

  1. Forty percent of the first $50,000 recovered by the claimant(s), 
  2. Thirty-three and one-third percent of the next $50,000 recovered by the claimant(s), 
  3. Twenty-five percent of the next $500,000 recovered by the claimant(s), and 
  4. Fifteen percent of any amount by which the recovery by the claimant(s) is in excess of $600,000. 


Under the bill, no demand for punitive damages shall be included in a health care lawsuit as initially filed. The bill calls for the trier of fact to determine if punitive damages will be awarded, and offers a method for determining punitive damages up to a maximum of $250,000.  

The preamble of the bill says it is “To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system.”  

The text of H.R. 5 is here.