“Early Offer” Legislation Isn’t Early, It’s Just Bad

The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a so-called “early offer” bill that would require medical providers to offer an injured party a settlement within 90 days. Proponents of the bill say that it would reduce medical malpractice costs and offer justice to those injured by a medical provider.
However, neither of these are true. It would benefit insurance companies, that’s for certain. But it wouldn’t benefit those who’ve been harmed. Very often in medical malpractice cases, the damage caused as well as the extent of the malpractice can’t be fully known within the 90 day period. Furthermore, as my colleague Attorney Jared Green pointed out, ““If the patients have access to competent lawyers, they’re almost never going to be advised to participate in this system. It’s only the people who are in a desperate situation, who don’t have competent legal representation, that are going to be pulled into this system.”
Senate Bill 406 provides that the settlement would be based on medical costs and lost wages, while limiting pain-and-suffering damages, from $1,700 for minor harm to $117,500 for grave harm. Participation in the program would be voluntary for patients.
Medical malpractice cases are often complex and require time and thorough investigation. A quick resolution is not justice but a swift travesty of justice. This is simply a bad bill.