Medical Amendments

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

The Florida Medical Association sponsored Amendment Three which would limit an attorney's contingency fees in a settlement. Voting yes will amend the constitution to specifically limit the contingency fee to a maximum of 30 percent a case where damages are $250,000 or less.

Dr. Avery Brinkley, a radiologist in Panama City, says the patients deserve more of the award money.

"You have to realize that the only thing which Amendment Three does is transfer money that would have gone into the lawyer's pocket, which currently is about 40 percent of all awards or settlements into patients’ pockets."

Attorney Larry Perry, who has taken on medical malpractice lawsuits, says the money doesn't go into his pocket. In fact, if this amendment passes it restrict a lawyer's financial ability to take a case. He says it affects attorneys who are only paid if they win the case, therefore they risk the loss before the case is tried.

"What happens is, in a medical malpractice situation a doctor or a hospital if they were to come in and admit liability, it would limit damages. But typically they don't, we end up fighting it and the cost to prosecute those cases are very, very expensive."

Dr. Brinkley disagrees.

"This is the reason a lot of frivolous lawsuits are filed, is that attorney's can use scare tactics on doctors, on hospitals and other health care providers."

Perry points out the reason beyond a lawsuit; it always involves a person who was hurt.

"The positive effect behind lawsuits is it gets the doctor or nurse to think twice.”

There are also two other amendments that are medical related. Amendment Seven would allow patients to review the records of health care facilities or providers medical mishaps.

The identities of patients would not be revealed to protect their privacy. Amendment Eight would prohibit doctors to be licensed in the state if they have three or more incidents of medical malpractice.


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