National AP News | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Florida Malpractice Insurance Rates Down 4 Years After Limits

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Four years ago, many Florida doctors
threatened to quit their practices because their malpractice
insurance premiums were spiraling out of control.

Some doctors retired early, some moved out of state. A few
briefly walked off the job. Others dropped their insurance and
hoped for the best.

After a fight between doctors and lawyers groups, the
Legislature responded by limiting the amounts malpractice victims
can win in lawsuits -- about 500-thousand dollars per doctor in
most cases.

Voters also changed the state constitution to cap how much
victims lawyers can get paid in contingency fees.

While some contend that unfairly penalized victims and made it
more difficult for them to find attorneys, the measures seem to
have helped stabilize and even reduce the malpractice premiums paid
by the state's doctors.

The measures appear to have helped decrease insurers' losses as
well.


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