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California malpractice victims fight to raise payment cap

When a child is sick or injured, parents often take the first step of calling emergency services or rushing their child to the doctor or the hospital. Once a sick child arrives at a medical facility, parents place their trust in health care professionals to ensure that they are treated correctly and that they receive adequate treatment for the child. Without intense medical knowledge, it's difficult for parents to know when doctors have made an incorrect diagnosis or treatment plan for a child who is sick.

Under California law created in 1975, medical malpractice settlements were limited to $250,000, but one family wants that changed. They claim the law should be amended to fit the increased costs of living and that the money they were awarded doesn't cover their increased costs.

The family was awarded $7.1 million by a jury after their son was misdiagnosed with bacterial meningitis when he was in fact suffering from a brain abscess. The young boy was left with brain damage and unable to see, walk or speak after the treatments he received from doctors. His mother says he is often frustrated with his inability to communicate. The family claims their attempts to fight the law reflect their desire to help families in similar situations.

Fans of the law claim that raising the cap could also increase healthcare costs for the average citizen. The family claims that while they know money can't bring their son back, having more money would have gone a long way toward improving his quality of life.

Source: ABC, "Victims of medical malpractice call for California law to be changed," Ashlee DeMartino, Sep. 3, 2013

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