HB527 (2012) Detail

Relative to tort reform.






AN ACT relative to tort reform.

SPONSORS: Rep. McClarren, Hills 21

COMMITTEE: Judiciary


This bill :

I. Limits non-economic damages, contingent fees, liability for emergency treatment, and wrongful death recoveries.

II. Provides for payment of future damages.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven

AN ACT relative to tort reform.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Statement of Purpose. The general court finds that the cost of health care and health insurance in New Hampshire has become overly burdensome to individuals, families, and small businesses alike. These high costs affect not only individuals, families, and small businesses but the ability of New Hampshire to create and retain jobs. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the legislature to take action to provide increased access to more affordable health care and health insurance in our state. It is the intent of this legislation to lessen indirect costs that drive up health care and health insurance costs as well as the direct costs of defensive medicine that also contribute to the high health care and health insurance costs in New Hampshire.

2 New Paragraph; Medical Injury Actions; Definitions. Amend RSA 507-E:1 by inserting after paragraph I the following new paragraph:

I-a. “Future damages” means damages for future medical treatment, care or custody, loss of future earnings, loss of bodily function, or future pain and suffering of the judgment creditor.

3 New Paragraphs; Definitions. Amend RSA 507-E:1 by inserting after paragraph III the following new paragraphs:

IV. “Non-economic loss” means non-pecuniary harm for which damages are recoverable, but does not include punitive or exemplary damages.

V. “Professional negligence” means a negligent act or omission to act by a medical care provider in rendering professional services, which is the proximate cause of a personal injury or wrongful death, provided that such services are within the scope of services for which the provider is licensed and are not within any restriction imposed by the licensing agency or licensed hospital.

4 New Sections; Limitations of Damages. Amend RSA 507-E by inserting after section 4 the following new sections:

507-E:5 Non-Economic Loss; Wrongful Death; Damages Recoverable.

I. The damages awarded may include compensation for pain and suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, or other non-economic loss. However, compensation for non-economic losses shall in no event exceed the sum of $250,000.

II. The damages awarded in any wrongful death claim as a result of medical injury shall not exceed $3,000,000.

507-E:6 Periodic Payment of Future Damages. In the event of a judgment for the plaintiff in a medical injury action, if the award for future damages exceeds $50,000, the court may, at the request of either party, order that the future damages of the injured person be paid in whole or in part by periodic payments as determined by the court, rather than by lump sum payment, on such terms as the court deems just and equitable. As a condition to authorizing periodic payments of future damages, the court may order a judgment debtor who is not adequately insured to post security adequate to assure full payment of such damages. In the event of the death of the injured person prior to completion of installment payments, upon motion of any party at interest, the court shall modify the order by deducting from the remaining balance the amount thereof representing unpaid compensation for future non-economic loss and future expenses of care and by ordering the remainder to be paid to the estate of the decedent.

507-E:7 Attorneys’ Fees.

I. No attorney shall contract for or collect a contingency fee for representing any person seeking damages in connection with an action for injury or damage against a medical care provider based upon such provider’s alleged professional negligence in excess of the following limits:

(a) Forty percent of the first $50,000 recovered.

(b) Thirty-three and one-third percent of the next $50,000 recovered.

(c) Twenty-five percent of the next $500,000 recovered.

(d) Fifteen percent of amounts exceeding $600,000 recovered.

II. The limitations in paragraph I shall apply whether the recovery is by settlement, arbitration, or judgment, or whether the person for whom the recovery is made is a responsible adult, an infant, or a person of unsound mind.

507-E:8 Emergency Treatment. No medical care provider who, in good faith, renders emergency care at the scene of an emergency without making any charge therefor, shall be liable for any civil damages as a result of acts or omissions by such person in rendering such emergency care, or as a result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care.

5 Wrongful Death. Amend RSA 556:12, I to read as follows:

I. If the administrator of the deceased party is plaintiff, and the death of such party was caused by the injury complained of in the action, the mental and physical pain suffered by the deceased in consequence of the injury, the reasonable expenses occasioned to the estate by the injury, [the probable duration of life but for the injury,] and the capacity to earn money during the deceased party’s probable working life, may be considered as elements of damage [in connection with other elements allowed by law, in the same manner as if the deceased had survived]. Total damages awarded shall not exceed $3,000,000.

6 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2012.