Even though it has been six years since the Affordable Care Act became law, politicians continue to debate ways to curb what appear to be ever-increasing costs of healthcare services. The battle against rising healthcare costs began long before the Affordable Care Act’s passage, however, and saw a number of states enacting medical malpractice caps that limit the amount of damages a medical malpractice claimant can recover in a lawsuit. Lawmakers believed such caps could be useful in lowering healthcare costs in that the amount of compensation a doctor or medical provider would be liable for would be restricted, thereby making the costs of medical malpractice liability insurance more affordable (and, hence, reducing the amount of the medical malpractice insurance premium that the doctor needed to “pass on” to his or her patients in the form of higher costs for services.
California's Medical Malpractice Cap Limits
California is one of many states that have passed a “cap” on the amount of noneconomic damages that a medical malpractice plaintiff can receive. The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) was passed in 1975 and limits medical malpractice plaintiffs to a maximum of $250,000 in noneconomic damages.
In any civil lawsuit, a plaintiff may allege that he or she has suffered “economic” harm as well as “noneconomic” harm. Economic harm consists of financial expenses and losses that a person experiences as the result of another person’s negligence: in the case of a medical malpractice case, this can include additional medical expenses, prescription drug costs, and time missed from work. “Noneconomic” harm refers to those losses that are not financial in nature – things like a person’s mental pain and suffering or the loss of enjoyment of life the person experiences as the result of his or her injury.
While MICRA restricts the amount of monetary damages that a plaintiff may receive for his or her noneconomic damages, no such cap is placed on the amount of economic damages that the plaintiff can receive. In other words, the plaintiff’s economic losses (at least the ones he or she can satisfactorily prove to the court) can be fully compensated, regardless of the actual amount of damages incurred. Conversely, no matter how severe the plaintiff’s pain and suffering or how limited his or her life now is because of the medical mistake, it is unlikely that he or she will recover more than $250,000 for those losses.
Helping Injured Patients in California for 40 Years
When you have been injured by a doctor’s or surgeon’s medical mistake, you may find yourself and your family facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic and noneconomic losses. Heiting & Irwin is your Riverside medical malpractice law firm. We want to help you recover from your tragic injury and obtain the compensation you need to pull your life back together. Contact our firm at (951) 682-6400 or by using our firm’s online contact form.
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