The Early Offer Alternative in Medical Malpractice Litigation: a Statutory Trap to Limit Liability
by Holly B. Haines
with contributions by William D. Woodbury
On June 27, 2012, over the veto of the Governor of New Hampshire and over the objections of the two largest medical malpractice insurers in New Hampshire, medical malpractice plaintiffs’ lawyers, the New Hampshire Association for Justice, and New Hampshire citizens harmed by medical malpractice, the New Hampshire legislature passed SB 406, the so-called “Early Offer” bill, into law, enacting RSA chapter 519-C.
This new law was pushed through the legislature in less than five months, with only two public hearings, with consideration and hearing by only one committee (Judiciary) in each chamber of the General Court, and after being rejected by every other jurisdiction in the United States where it has been proposed, as well as by the United States Congress.
Perhaps most notably, this law was not necessary in New Hampshire since insurers and physicians have always had the right to make an early offer to a plaintiff if a negligent medical error occurred.