Report Says N.J. Doctors Seek Big Reductions in Policy Limits

June 9, 2003

While medical malpractice insurance reform proposals remain stalled in the New Jersey Legislature, some of the state’s physicians have decided to take matters into their own hands. They’re calling on the Board of Medical Examiners to reduce malpractice insurance requirements from the current high limits to those required for automobile coverage.

According to a report in The Record of Hackensack, NJ, the Medical Society of New Jersey, which represents less than third of the State’s physicians, called on the Board to set $15,000 in liability coverage for each case and $30,000 per year as the minimum coverage requirements, compared to the current $1 million and $3 million.

The article quoted the attorney for the Medical Society as asking, “what difference does it make to a person whether they were injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident or a claim of medical negligence?” The doctors are reportedly willing to accept the risk of personal liability for claims that exceed policy limits, if it will dramatically lower the med mal insurance premiums they now have to pay.

The report indicated that many felt they should be able to determine their own coverage limits in the event that reform proposals are not enacted. Neither NJ Governor James McGreevey nor the State Assembly, controlled by the Democrats, are in favor of the proposal, passed by the NJ Senate, to set a $300,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering.

Nor would it seem that their cause been advanced by the recently released study from Weiss Ratings, indicating that caps on med mal recoveries have largely failed to lower insurance premiums. (See National News)

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