TORT reform debate heats up - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

TORT reform debate heats up

March 31, 2004

Albany -- State lawmakers are debating controversial tort reform proposals, including a bill to limit the money juries could give victims of medical mistakes for pain and suffering. Most states already have such a cap. People on both sides of the issue are making sure their voices are heard.

Wylene Redding is bringing seven-month old Brad in to see the doctor. And these days this Grandmother is more observant of what those doctors are doing after seeing the results of a sick co-worker who was given the wrong medication.

"Short term memory she's just not the person she was before. She can't remember things she can't do thing for herself," says Redding.

Georgia doctors say huge jury awards for pain and suffering are sending their insurance premiums skyrocketing. Now, they're pushing a controversial 250 thousand dollar cap on jury awards.

Dr. Daniel Rhoads is president of the Dougherty County Medical Association.

"A person can have a very minor injury but the jury will award them 10 million dollars for pain and suffering and there is no good way to measure that," says Rhoads.

Opponents of the 'one-size-fits-all' cap say it's especially unfair to older and poor people. A jury can't award them much money for lost wages. If they also can't get a big award for pain and suffering, lawyers may be less likely to represent them. This grandmother has mixed feelings about the cap, but she does know one thing for sure.

"If anything happens to him I would want him to be taken care of the rest of his life because I would be around to do it," says Redding.

Putting a price tag on quality of life a continuing challenge For Georgia lawmakers.

In 2000 Georgia Doctors paid out more than 92 million dollars jury awards.

posted at 6:10PM by scott.hunter@walb.com