Bill limiting liability awards wins House approval

August 4, 2005

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would limit punitive damages in medical liability lawsuits.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would limit punitive damages in medical liability lawsuits. The "Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH)" bill would cap awards for pain and suffering at $250,000, but would not limit the amount awarded to a plaintiff for economic damages, lost wages, or medical expenses.

A statement from the White House said President Bush would support the bill. However, previous bills that would limit medical liability awards that have passed the House have failed to receive Senate approval.

Critics of the HEALTH bill objected to a provision that would protect drug and medical device makers from lawsuits if a drug or device received FDA approval, Reuters reported. Supporters countered the criticism by using California as an example of a state that has implemented limits on punitive damages—including protection for drug and device companies—and has seen its liability insurance premiums increase less than those of other states.