Raising the cap on damages for medical malpractice claims in California

California is considering changes to the medical malpractice cap on plaintiffs’ damages.

The result of inattentive or carelessness medical treatment can be very costly for a victim. Even the simplest mistake can create hefty and ongoing financial consequences for the injured or his or her family. Moreover, some acts of negligence are so egregious that the damage is irreparable, and the accident affects the victim for the remainder of his or her life.

Unfortunately, there is a limit on the amount of recovery available through medical malpractice claims. In California, damages are capped at $250,000 for pain and suffering in such matters. Therefore, even if a medical injury causes a lifetime of pain and suffering that lasts a lifetime, the injured victim will be limited to a $250,000 recovery for that claim.

November 2014 ballot

However, supporters of a more fair and equitable medical malpractice recovery system have an opportunity to change this antiquated limitation, which was passed into law in 1975 at the behest of the insurance and medical industries. Proponents of the cause have qualified an initiative for the November 2014 California ballot in an effort to correct this injustice. According to individuals advocating for a raise in damages caused by medical malpractice, this longstanding limitation is out dated and is simply not enough in many cases to fairly compensate seriously injured victims of medical negligence. Therefore, the initiative would adjust the limitation on pain and suffering damages caused by medical negligence, by the increase in the cost of living since its passage in 1975, which would raise the limit on damages caused by medical negligence to approximately $1.1 million. Compare this increase to what a house or automobile cost in 1975. Robert S. Pack is spearheading the cause.

There have been other proposals aimed at raising the cap on medical malpractice damages in California in the past, all of which have failed in the face of strong opposition by the well-funded insurance and medical industries. The current initiative would not only raise the dollar amount that is recoverable for victims of medical negligence, but also give California's insurance commissioner the ability to reject increases in health insurance rates. Furthermore, the ballot proposal would also require the random alcohol and drug testing of physicians and mandate that doctors check the state's prescription drug database prior to prescribing medication.

There are groups in opposition to the changes, including the California Chamber of Commerce California Hospital Association among other medical industry and insurance groups. Such organizations feel the measure may encourage too many medical malpractice matters. Nevertheless, Pack explains that the protections connected with the ballot initiative will save lives and protect individuals from negligent and impaired doctors. He adds, "No family should suffer because a doctor recklessly prescribes pills to an addict, is a substance abuser, or commits repeated acts of medical negligence."

The need for a legal professional after medical negligence

Those who are professionally trained to protect individuals from ailments and injuries should not be the ones who compromise health and safety. If you or a loved one was harmed as a result of reckless medical treatment, your first step is to contact a legal professional. It is hard to put a price on the cost of an injury, as a mistake can inadvertently affect many facets of life, including health, employment, family and more.

If you want to learn more about your financial recovery options after medical-related negligence, speak with a seasoned professional malpractice attorney in California. A qualified lawyer will also have the knowledge and insight to discuss your situation as well as the potential changes in the law.

Keywords: damages, medical malpractice, cap, personal injury