17:30D-27 Definitions relative to medical malpractice judgments; payment.
24. a. As used in this section:
“Annuity” means an annuity issued by an insurer licensed or authorized to do business in this State which is a qualified assignment under section 130 of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986, 26 U.S.C. S.130.
“Judgment creditor” means a claimant who is the recipient of an award for economic or noneconomic damages, or both, that is the result of an action filed against a health care provider for medical malpractice, which award is subject to the provisions of subsection b. of this section.
“Judgment debtor” means a health care provider who, as a defendant in an action brought for medical malpractice, is required to pay the claimant an award that is subject to the provisions of this section.
“Noneconomic damages” means damages for physical and emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, hedonic damages, injury to reputation, and all other nonpecuniary losses of any kind or nature.
“Structured payment agreement” means an agreement made to settle a claim or lawsuit or respond to a judgment in an action brought for medical malpractice by an injured person whereby a series of periodic payments, rather than a lump sum payment, is made over time to a claimant, in accordance with the needs of the claimant or the claimant’s family, either through the purchase of an annuity or the establishment of a trust fund, or by another means approved by the court.
b. (1) Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, in any judgment resulting from a medical malpractice action brought by a claimant for medical malpractice in which the noneconomic damages are less than or equal to $1,000,000, the court shall enter a judgment ordering that all of the money damages, both economic and noneconomic, be paid immediately.
(2) Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, in any judgment resulting from a medical malpractice action brought by a claimant for medical malpractice in which the noneconomic damages exceed $1,000,000, the court shall enter a judgment ordering that 50% of the noneconomic damages be paid immediately, with the costs and attorney’s fees to be paid from that amount. The remaining 50% of the judgment shall be paid over 60 months in the form of a structured payment agreement by any person, organization, group, or insurer that is contractually liable to pay the judgment.
C. The structured payment agreement shall specify: the recipient of the payments; the dollar amount of the payments; the interval between payments; the number of payments or the period of time over which payments are to be made; and the persons to whom money damages are owed, if any, in the event of the judgment creditor’s death.
d. In the event of the judgment creditor’s death, any amounts due and owing pursuant to subsection b. of this section shall be paid to the judgment creditor’s estate.
e. The judgment debtor or the judgment debtor’s insurer shall be required to: post a bond or security; or, as otherwise provided by regulation of the Department of Banking and Insurance, assure full payment of the noneconomic damages awarded. A bond shall not be deemed adequate unless it is written by a company authorized to do business in this State and is rated A-, or better, by A.M. Best Company or such other company as is approved by the Department of Banking and Insurance. If the judgment debtor is unable to adequately assure full payment of the judgment, the judgment, reduced to present value, shall be paid to the claimant in a lump sum. No bond may be canceled or be subject to cancellation unless at least 60 days’ advance written notice is filed with the court and the claimant. Upon termination of periodic payments, the security, or so much as remains, shall be returned to the judgment debtor.
f. Upon the purchase of an annuity, establishment of a trust, or approval of another arrangement for periodic payments by a court, any obligation of the judgment debtor with respect to the judgment shall cease.
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