Medical malpractice paperwork

Are there damages caps in California Medical Malpractice lawsuits?

If you are injured during the course of medical care after a healthcare professional breaches the standard of care, you may have a case of medical malpractice.  Like most claims for personal injuries, medical malpractice damages have the potential to be significant. In California, though, medical malpractice damages have been capped. This means that the amount of money you are able to collect if you win a case is limited.

A personal injury, medical malpractice or wrongful death attorney will be able to assist you in determining what your damages might be in your particular situation, but we’ve highlighted some of the basics here for you today.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

In order to substantiate a medical malpractice case, you must generally establish what the standard of care was, how that standard of care was breached, and how that breach resulted in the injury. The standard of care is usually seen as the generally accepted practices that all healthcare professionals would follow if they were treating someone, but there are some nuances that can be better explained by a medical malpractice attorney.

What Are Malpractice Damages Caps?

Since 1975, MICRA, short for Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975, has limited the amount of damages that medical malpractice plaintiffs can obtain. This cap limits damages to $250,000 for pain and suffering, including disfigurement, loss of fertility or loss of limbs. This cap has been in effect since 1975 and has not been adjusted for inflation, which has reached about 75% in that time. Unfortunately, the only beneficiaries of this cap is the insurance companies.

While MICRA has placed caps on non-economic damages (pain and suffering), they have not placed caps on economic or punitive damages. Economic damages include things like:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages or profits
  • Mileage to and from medical appointments

Punitive damages are special damages meant to punish and deter truly bad behavior. In the case of medical malpractice, this includes gross negligence.

Do I Have A Case?

If you think you have a case against a medical practitioner, you must act fast. These cases must be flied within one year of the date you discover, or through reasonable diligence should have discovered, your injury; or within 3 years from the date of the injury, whichever comes first.

If you have been injured due to medical malpractice, we can help.  Our experienced personal injury attorneys can review your evidence and work with you to build your case.  Contact us today for a free consultation.