California Medical Malpractice Cap Raised For First Time In 47 Years
You do not need a background in economics to know that inflation will have numerous impacts over a period of almost five decades. California lawmakers finally addressed how it affects medical malpractice cases, and the move spells good news for victims. A San Francisco Chronicle article dated May 23, 2022 reported that the new law raises the statutory cap on certain types of damages. For the last 47 years, patients harmed by medical negligence were limited to an amount set when the economy was very different.
California is one of 33 US states that imposes a statutory cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. The logic being that the limitation carries benefits for physicians’ insurance premiums, but the recent increase prioritizes the interests of injured patients. An Oakland medical malpractice lawyer can explain the implications of the law, and an overview may be helpful.
Details on California’s New Medical Malpractice Damages Cap
The original statutory cap on med mal compensation, established in 1975, was $250,000. This limitation only applied to noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, and the details are described below. Starting January 1, 2023:
- Patients who are injured by a negligent health care provider may recover up to $350,000.
- The surviving loved ones of a person who suffered fatal med mal injuries can seek up to $500,000 through a wrongful death claim.
After 2023, the statutory cap on noneconomic damages will gradually increase through 2033. At this point, claimants may recover up to a maximum of $750,000 and $1 million for an injury claim and wrongful death case, respectively. From there, the cap increases 2 percent annually to align with inflation.
Basics About Medical Malpractice Damages
Compensation in a med mal case aims to reimburse the victim for the losses resulting from the health care provider’s error, with a goal to put the patient in the same position as if the mistake never happened. There are two types of damages under California’s personal injury laws:
- Economic Damages: Some losses are definable, tangible, and can be measured by dollar value. Medical costs, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses for treatment are examples of economic damages.
- Noneconomic Damages: Other losses are more subjective and personal to the victim because of how they affect quality of life. Pain and suffering and emotional distress fall in this category. Plus, it is possible to recover for loss of consortium, education, guidance, financial contributions, and others in a wrongful death case.
California’s new law only applies the statutory cap to noneconomic damages. There are no limits on economic damages in a successful claim.
Reach Out to an Oakland Medical Malpractice Attorney to Learn More
The new statutory cap on noneconomic damages in med mal claims is welcome news for patients who suffer long-term consequences and diminished quality of life. For additional details on the law, please contact Venardi Zurada, LLP to speak to a member of our team. We can schedule a no-cost case review at our offices in Oakland, Orinda, and Redding, CA to discuss how the concepts affect your case.