Justinian Lane

A real example of medical malpractice damage caps

A common suggestion on how to “reform” the malpractice system is to institute a $250,000 damage cap.  Here’s a real life example of how those caps work.  I’ll leave it to you to decide if this seems fair:

Bashar Ashkar should be at work running the seven-figure engineering firm that bears his name, or helping his wife, Shari, plan his daughter Lauren's fall wedding.

Instead, the 63-year-old spends most days lying down or sitting up in his Houston nursing home room, staring straight ahead at a wall of family pictures.

They're a daily reminder of his life before July 14, 2005, when a steroid injection into his spine for arm and back pain resulted in a cerebral hemorrhage that locked him forever inside a useless body.

To communicate, he relies on what he has left, his ability to nod “yes” or shake his head “no” in response to visitors' questions or to spell out his answers from a letter board Lauren or her twin sister, Nora, hold up.

. . . .

For his pain and suffering, Bashar Ashkar received $60,307.60. His wife's ordeal was worth $101,145.28.

Source: Paralyzed in body - and by law | Dead by mistake

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Posted at 12:45 PM, Mar 04, 2010 in Damage Caps | Medical Malpractice
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Very sad to hear about Mr Ashkar...if he and his wife received $2 million would he be in a better situation? Your view only points out the dollar is the only solution and you do not mention that this procedure has potential adverse results. Getting a needle into the spine is a risk no matter what the circumstance may be. I am sure Mr Ashkar signed informed consent that clearly stated there are dangers to needles in the spine. Maybe the pain was so great prior to the procedure he was willing to take this chance. You are the reason and your thoughts are the reason Americans pay so much for healthcare. How many patients have you cured? Did you know last year 38,000 students entered law school and 18,000 entered medical school. Do you share that 52% of our Congress and Senate are lawyers. Our governmentis supposed to represent the people, this clearly is not the way it is and if we do not change it...who will you sue? Oh yeh...lawyers will sue lawyers...I hope you go to an attorney for your healthcare, you are not deserving of a doctor.

Posted by: T Hawk | March 4, 2010 7:51 PM

The $250,000 cap in Texas only applies to noneconomic damages. Since Mr. Ashkar owns a 7-figure engineering firm and is now unable to work, he should have been eligible for a considerable economic damage award.

Posted by: D. Butler | March 5, 2010 10:46 AM

T Hawk:

How many people have I cured? None. The flip side is my negligence hasn't killed anyone, either. An incompetent doctor can do a lot more damage than an incompetent lawyer.

As for lawyers running Congress? Well, would you rather people who have no idea how the law works run the show? Letting someone without a background in law draft legislation is kind of like letting someone without a background in medicine perform surgery - a bad idea.

D Butler:

I agree with you about economic damages. And that's what's so unfair about them: A guy with a good job who is severely injured doesn't have to worry about providing to his family, but a guy with a not-so-good job will have to.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | March 12, 2010 9:57 PM