Archive for March, 2015

Kansas City Medical Malpractice Attorney Reports: Could Caps on Non-Economic Damages Return to Missouri?

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

If you have never been involved in a personal injury or medical malpractice case, you may be unfamiliar with the types of damages a person may receive. In these types of cases, there are two main types of damages: economic and non-economic damages.  Specifically, economic damages refer tfo lost wages, loss of future income, medical bills and property damages.  On the other hand, on-economic damages attempt to compensate plaintiffs for quality of life related injuries such as pain and suffering, consortium, emotional distress, loss of companionship, and other intangible injuries.

In 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned a state law that placed a cap on the amount of non-economic damages plaintiffs could receive in both personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. The case was Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Center.  In Watts, the Watts’ son was born with disabling brain injuries and it was determined by the jury that Cox Medical Center and its physicians provided the infant with negligent health care services. As part of its verdict, the jury awarded the Watts $1.45 million dollars in non-economic damages and $3.371 million in future medical damages. The trial court then reduced the jury’s award for non-economic damages down to $300,000, as it was required to do per a state law which capped damages.

On appeal, the plaintiffs argued to the Missouri Supreme Court that the state law which provided a cap on non-economic damages violated their right to a trial by jury along with violating other provisions of the Missouri Constitution. The Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs. In its ruling, it overturned the state law finding that the law infringed on the jury’s purpose (as set forth in the Constitution) of being able to determine the amount of damages that should be given to an injured party. The Court opined that such a limitation was not permissible at common law when the Missouri constitution was adopted back in 1820—so therefore, it is unconstitutional.

Now close to three years later, some members of the Missouri legislation want to reenact the cap laws. Two bills are currently making their way through the legislation, one in the House and the other in the Senate. The bill just passed by the House would limit the pain and suffering damages to a maximum of $350,000. Whereas the bill just passed by the Senate would create a three-tiered structure with a maximum cap of $400,000 for personal injury claims and $700,000 maximum for non-economic catastrophic injury and death damages (both which would increase by 1.7% annually).

Proponents of the bills argue that such legislation is needed to reduce the costs of medical malpractice insurance and provide incentives to physicians to remain in the state. Those against the bills argue that the caps will hurt people who have already been seriously injured. Opponents further argue that placing a limit on a person’s pain and suffering or a person’s life is a job best done by a jury, not the legislature.

Contact Hubbard & Kurtz Today to Receive the Quality Representation You Deserve

 If you or a loved one was seriously injured by a medical professional, it is important to speak with an experienced Kansas City Medical Malpractice Attorney as soon as possible. Medical malpractice, like all personal injury matters are time sensitive. Only a seasoned Kansas City Medical Malpractice attorney understands what it takes to win a case. The medical malpractice attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. are compassionate professionals who are well versed it handling all aspects of medical negligence cases. To schedule a free and completely confidential consultation, contact Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. today at (816) 472-4673. At Hubbard & Kurt L.L.P., our attorneys will work hard to make sure that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.

Kansas City Estate Planning Attorney Discusses Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Life can be quite unpredictable. One minute it seems everything can be going your way and the next minute you are left wondering if things could possibly become any worse. Just as it is important in day-to-day life to plan ahead, the same advice is true in the event of serious illness and/or death. Proper estate planning not only makes good financial sense, it can also provide peace of mind to your loved ones. However, too often people make errors when it comes to estate planning. The following are some of the most common mistakes Kansas City residents make when it comes to estate planning:

Adopt the thinking that estate planning is not for me. Probably the biggest mistake an individual can make is to not have a will and/or trust made because he or she thinks that it is not right for them. There are multiples reasons why people think this way, including:

  • Do not have enough money: Many people think that estate planning is solely for the wealthy. But you do not have to be Bill Gates to engage in estate planning! If you have family or loved ones that you want to protect in the event of your passing, then estate planning is for you.
  • Too young: Are you in your 30’s and think that you are too young to worry about estate planning? Think again. Unfortunately, illness or sudden tragic events do not plan and can happen regardless of your age—so that is why you need to be ready just in case disaster strikes. Do not put off estate planning just because you think you have not hit some magic age.
  • Spouse will take care of everything: Some individuals think they do not need a will because his or her spouse will take care of everything. However, if a person dies without a will, his or her estate will be divided per the intestacy laws of the state in which he or she resided, not how his or her spouse desires. There is also the possibility that a married couple will pass together, like for example in a car accident. In this type of event, a person will most likely not be “okay” with the court make the decision of who will become the guardian of the couple’s children. While this possibility is remote, one of the main purposes of estate planning is to be prepared in case of the unexpected.

Fail to review and/or update will and trusts regularly: If you make a will in your late 30s, it is important that you do not think that you are set for life, so to speak. As your life continues, things will change and you will want your will and/or trusts to reflect these changes.

Not meeting with an estate planning attorney. It is true that many basic estate planning tools can be found online. However, it is always best to speak with an estate planning attorney who can make sure that all of your unique needs are addressed and that your will or other estate planning is done without error.

If you want your family or loved ones to be properly taken care in the event you become seriously ill or pass away, then you need to speak with a Kansas City Estate Planning Attorney. A seasoned Estate Planning Attorney can help you avoid making common mistake planning mistakes. The experienced Kansas City Estate Planning Attorneys at the Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. have helped countless clients, in both Kansas and Missouri create estate plans that meet their individual needs. To schedule a consultation, please contact our office today at (816) 472-4673. Too often people delay estate planning for a multitude of reasons. Do not delay—talk with an estate planning attorney today!