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Exemplary Statutory Language for Periodic Payment Legislation

California Statute with Modifications

(a) In any action for injury or damages against a provider of health care services, the court shall, at the request of either party, enter a judgment ordering that money damages or its equivalent for future damages of the judgment creditor be paid in whole or in part by periodic payments rather than by a lump-sum payment if the award equals or exceeds fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) in future damages. A specific finding of the dollar amount of periodic payments which will compensate for these future damages after offset for collateral sources shall be made. The total dollar amount of the periodic payments shall equal the dollar amount of all such future damages before any reduction to present value.

 (b) (1) The judgment ordering the payment of future damages by periodic payments shall specify the recipient or recipients of the payments, the dollar amount of the payments, the interval between payments, and the number of payments or the period of time over which payments shall be made.  Such payments shall only be subject to modification in the event of the death of the judgment creditor and under the terms of subsection (c) below.

(2) In the event that the court finds that the judgment debtor has exhibited a continuing pattern of failing to make the payments, as specified in paragraph (1), the court shall find the judgment debtor in contempt of court and, in addition to the required periodic payments, shall order the judgment debtor to pay the judgment creditor all damages caused by the failure to make such periodic payments, including court costs and attorney's fees.

(c) In the event of the death of the injured person prior to completion of installment payments upon motion of any party in interest, the court shall modify the order by deducting from the remaining balance the amount representing unpaid compensation for future pain and suffering and future expenses of care and by ordering the remainder to be paid into and become a part of the estate of the decedent.  Monetary damages awarded for loss of future earnings shall not be reduced or payments terminated by reason of the death of the judgment creditor, but shall be paid to persons to whom the judgment creditor owed a duty of support, as provided by law, immediately prior to his death.  In such cases the court which rendered the original judgment, may, upon petition of any party in interest, modify the judgment to award and apportion the unpaid future damages in accordance with this subdivision.

(d) Following the occurrence or expiration of all obligations specified in the periodic payment judgment, any obligation of the judgment debtor to make further payments shall cease and any security given shall revert to the judgment debtor.

(e) As used in this section:

(1) "Periodic payments" means the payment of money or delivery of other property to the judgment creditor at regular intervals.

(2) "Health care provider" means any person licensed or certified to practice medicine or osteopathic medicine, and any clinic, health dispensary, or health facility.  "Health care provider" includes the legal representatives of a health care provider.

(4) "Professional negligence" means a negligent act or omission to act by a health care provider in the rendering of professional services, which act or omission is the proximate cause of a personal injury or wrongful death.

(f) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this section to authorize the entry of judgments in malpractice actions against health care providers which provide for the payment of future damages through periodic payments rather than lump-sum payments.  By authorizing periodic payment judgments, it is the further intent of the Legislature that the courts will utilize such judgments to provide compensation sufficient to meet the needs of an injured plaintiff and those persons who are dependent on the plaintiff for whatever period is necessary while eliminating the potential windfall from a lump-sum recovery which was intended to provide for the care over an extended period of an injured plaintiff who then dies shortly after the judgment is paid, leaving the balance of the judgment award to persons and purposes for which it was not intended.  It is also the intent of the Legislature that all elements of the periodic payment program be specified with certainty in the judgment ordering such payments and that the judgment not be subject to modification at some future except as allowed by subdivision (c) of this act.

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