Californian plaintiffs are limited in the number of damages that they can seek in medical malpractice lawsuits. This limit seemingly imposes hardships on patients who are injured by their doctor’s negligence. Now, California voters may have a chance to decide whether one damages cap can be raised.
Pain and suffering is limited in medical malpractice cases
Currently, the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act has imposed a $250,000 limit on pain and suffering that patients can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit. This cap has been in place since 1975. Since then, inflation has eaten away at the value of the dollar, while the cap has remained set at the same level. This result keeps patients from fully recovering from the ordeal that they go through when a negligent doctor injures them. Doctors and their insurance companies escape much responsibility through these harsh caps.
Raising the cap will be on the ballot
California allows measures to be placed on the ballot in a referendum when enough signatures are collected. Proponents of raising these damage caps say that they have 900,000 signatures, enough to get this measure on the ballot. The proposed referendum would raise the cap for pain and suffering to $1.1 million. Whatever the reason for the original legislation, it targets victims who suffer at the hands of their doctors. Critics allege that it disproportionately impacts people of color. Now, Californians will be able to change this at the next election.
Medical malpractice victims can file a lawsuit against their doctor. They can cover for their damages, including medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. However, the non-economic part of their claim is sharply limited for now. This is not just a matter of what trial lawyers want. Instead, med mal claims are an issue of fundamental fairness.