The Kentucky Supreme Court has overturned a 2017 law that had virtually brought medical malpractice cases to a standstill within the state. The court’s action once again freed people to file lawsuits when they suffered grave injuries at the hands of their doctors, nurses and other medical providers.
As noted in Chief Justice John Minton’s opinion, the state’s constitution reads, in part, “All courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done to him in his lands, goods, person or reputation shall have remedy by due course of law and right and justice administered without sale, denial or delay.” This statement, according to Chief Justice Minton, is key to why the review panels are unconstitutional.
The state law requiring the review panels, which was heavily touted by medical associations as necessary to protect physicians, hospitals and nursing homes from the frivolous malpractice claims they claim drive up health care costs and discourage physicians from practicing, was supposed to be the first major step toward tort reform.
Malpractice attorneys, however, widely believed that the law did nothing but slam the courthouse doors shut on victims by turning a medical malpractice case into a feat of endurance. They were essentially proved correct. In August 2018, it was reported that only 3 percent of cases presented to the review panels had made it through the process. The rest were sitting, the vast majority of them not yet even assigned for review.
Now, thanks to the efforts of the Claycomb family (who challenged the law on behalf of their injured son) and the state’s top court, every malpractice victim has an opportunity once again to let a jury decide if his or her case has merit.
If you or your family member has suffered serious harm due to negligent medical care, learn more information about your rights to seek justice and compensation.