Do Medical Malpractice Damage Caps Affect My Medical Malpractice Case?
In the last decades, a number of states have enacted damage caps in medical malpractice cases. These damage caps are a huge point of debate in every state in the U.S. It’s time to separate fact from fiction.
What is a damage cap?
Damage caps in California medical malpractice cases are state laws that restrict the amount of money a person injured by medical malpractice can receive as compensation from a lawsuit. One misconception about damage caps is that they apply to all types of damages. They do not. Noneconomic damages a plaintiff can receive in a medical malpractice case are limited. In California, economic damages are not reduced by damage caps.
“Economic damages” refers to verifiable economic losses (past and future) resulting from their injuries, compensation for past and future medical bills, loss of earnings and earning capacity, and other out of pocket expense. Although any consideration of future economic losses requires analysis and expertise, experts can make a very educated prediction about what those damages will be.
“Non-Economic Damages” refer to damages for losses that don’t represent an objectively verifiable cost to the victim. These damages include: pain, suffering, loss of consortium (loss of, or a reduction of, a spouse’s love, affection, support, etc.), and other similar types of damage/injury. Although these damages represent very real losses, experience and knowledge about what would be an appropriate award or figure for the harm that befell the victim is often required. The amount of non-economic damages in a particular case many times has to be determined by a jury.
Damage cap laws may vary from state-to-state, but we’re going to focus on California Law.
Is your Riverside Medical Malpractice lawsuit subject to a damage cap?
If you were injured by medical malpractice in Riverside, damage caps apply to you. California’s damage cap law is found in the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), passed by the state legislature in 1975. This law limits the amount of non-economic damages awardable in a California medical malpractice case to $250,000, no matter how bad the injury, or even if the case involves the death of a loved one. And the limits have not changed since 1975!! Fortunately, California’s law does NOT restrict the amount of economic damages a person can be awarded.