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Personal injury lawsuit calls malpractice cap into question

The California medical malpractice cap of $250,000 is being called into question in a case involving a jury award of $8.4 million. The case centers around a boy who was being abused. Doctors failed to report the abuse and the boy eventually suffered injuries that left him paralyzed.

The child was initially seen by doctors in the emergency room when he was seven weeks old. He had facial bruising, eye injuries and a blood in his mouth. No call was made to report a suspicion of child abuse. Only three weeks later, he was back in the emergency room with broken bones, a damaged spinal cord and bruising over a large part of his body. He was removed from the care of his teenage parents and has since been adopted by the woman who was his foster parent when he was placed into protective custody.

In the award, the jury noted that Jackson's Sutter Sacramento Sierra Region and its physician group were responsible for half of that sum. The question now is whether the case hinges on medical malpractice or not. If the judge finds that the medical malpractice cap must be applied, the half of the award that the medical group and physician group must pay would be reduced to $250,000.

The child's share of the compensation for his injuries is $3.9 million with another $4.1 million for future damages. His lawyer notes that the issue shouldn't be classified as medical malpractice because a failure to report child abuse isn't a component of medical care.

This case is far from over because the defendants in the case could appeal if the judge chooses to let the award stand without the reduction. The same is true even if the judge does reduce the award because the 6-year-old boy's attorney could appeal on his behalf.

Anyone who is seeking compensation through a medical malpractice claim or a claim that might be construed as this type of claim should be aware of the 1975 law that caps the damages you can seek.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Amador jury awards $8.4 million to boy paralyzed after Sutter and its doctors did not report abuse," Cathie Anderson, Oct. 20, 2017

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