Among the measures introduced by Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes to help curb rising insurance costs are bills that would:
*Establish a limit of $100,000 on judgments against local governments, limit attorneys' fees in those cases, require that the governments defend their employes in civil suits and ensure that employes are not personally liable for accidents that occur while they perform their jobs.
*Establish a limit of $250,000 on awards for noneconomic losses, sometimes called "pain and suffering awards" because they are separate from economic losses such as unemployment. The proposed change would allow evidence to be introduced describing benefits the plaintiffs have already received as a result of the injuries and require that any awards be paid out in increments rather than in a lump sum.
*Give the state insurance commissioner authority to require insurance companies to notify policyholders of proposed rate increases and guarantee policyholders the right to a hearing and an appeal. It would allow some agencies to pool casualty insurance coverage.
*Alter the jurisdiction and practices of the Health Claims Arbitration Office, which makes a preliminary ruling in medical malpractice cases before the cases can go to court.
*Add a consumer member to the Commission on Medical Discipline, which reviews charges against physicians; require certain medical organizations to report charges against physicians, and require the commission to notify health care facilities about complaints.
Among the measures introduced by lawmakers are bills that would: Restrict legal fees to 35 percent of the first $100,000 of an award, 20 percent of the next $100,000 and 10 percent above that. Restrict the age at which a minor can sue in his or her own right for malpractice. Minors now have until age 19 to sue for alleged birth-related malpractice; various proposals would lower the age to 9 or 5. Another measure would prohibit anyone from filing suit for malpractice more than five years after the date of the alleged injury.