Government of U.S. Territory Unable to Pay Malpractice Settlements
Wichita, KS -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/05/2016 --The U.S. Virgin Islands government has told V.I. attorney Julie Evert that it is no longer able to pay damages to victims of medical malpractice. This is due to the government's failure to maintain the Medical Malpractice Risk Management Fund, which is stipulated in the government's V.I. Code. Victims of malpractice are now left completely unprotected.
In a recent medical malpractice claim, Evert was informed by the V.I. Risk Management Office that the Government of the Virgin Islands would only pay the settlement agreement when "funds are made available." According to Evert, the V.I. "cannot commit to paying a settlement in 30 days, 60 days, six months, or in one year or more. That means a suit against a doctor can be legitimate, yet settlement comes when and if the government decides to pay it" (Virgin Islands Daily News).
"Victims of medical malpractice deserve the opportunity to reclaim their lives after terrible injuries. Denying them compensation is unacceptable," says Bradley J. Prochaska, medical malpractice attorney of Prochaska, Howell & Prochaska. "There must be accountability and transparency in all medical malpractice claims. Furthermore, legislators and physicians must be held responsible for their actions."
Unfortunately, the V.I. medical malpractice system has been broken for many years. The V.I. Code originally placed a $250,000 cap on medical malpractice claims. The Medical Risk Management Unit was then responsible for processing the claim. The unit's mission was intended to not only help victims recover, but also to assist medical professionals in improving quality patient care. However, the Medical Malpractice Risk Management Fund and the V.I. Medical Malpractice Action Review Committee no longer exist.
As a result, V.I. medical malpractice attorneys are not being paid by the government, and many are no longer taking victims as clients. "In the end, it's patients and their families who suffer the most," says Prochaska. "Medical malpractice is a terrible tragedy that results in severe physical and emotional trauma. When victims are left unprotected and no one is held accountable, then the medical industry's code of ethics loses all credibility."