After years of fighting hard to protect the interest of victims of careless, negligent doctors and medical professionals, the Consumer Attorneys of California has reached an agreement to modify the MICRA law. This was signed into law on May 24, 2022. This change will make a world of difference for the victims of medical malpractice and enable them to be more fully compensated for their losses.
By way of background, MICRA is the state law in California that governs all cases of medical professional negligence. This includes all cases against doctors, hospitals, dentist, therapist, and any other professional provided medical services. This law passed in 1975 limited the general damages (i.e. the part of damages that compensated a person for claims of pain and suffering) to a maximum of $250,000.00. That meant that no matter how egregious the negligent care was or how serious the harm, the most a person could sue for was general damages of $250,000. Special damages including out of pocket medical expenses and loss of income can be claimed in addition to the pain and suffering general damages. Since medical malpractice cases are some of the most difficult to win and are very expenses due to costs of expert testimony necessary to prove the case, a person would often find themselves fighting for years and great personal and financial risk for what is a minimal recovery after costs of litigation.
These limits on general damages had not changed since 1975. Just as comparison, minimum wage was $2.10 per hour and the median home in California was about $42,000.00. The other effect of such low limits of recovery for victims is that there was little incentive for doctors and insurance companies to settle cases as they had so little exposure even if they lost at trial. That meant many victim had to suffer through the difficult process of prolonged litigation for any compensation. All these factors resulted in most victims of medical malpractice received little or no compensation for their losses.
This situation has gotten somewhat better for claimants as of this week. Effective for cases in litigation after January 1, 2023 the limit on general damages in a case governed by MICRA goes up to as follows:
For a non-death case, the cap increases from $250,000 to $350,000 on January 1, 2023, and continues to increase to $750,000 over ten years.
For a wrongful death case, the cap increases from $250,000 to $500,000 on January 1, 2023, and continues to increase to $1,000,000 over ten years.
After the caps increase to $750,000/$1,000,000 in 2033, a 2% COLA attaches starting January 1, 2034, thereby adjusting the caps annually
Other new provision in the MICRA law will further protect and compensate medical malpractice victims and their family.
So, if you or someone you know is a victim of a careless and negligent health care provider, do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney to evaluate you case and defend your rights. Medical malpractice case will still be some of the most difficult to prove, but at least now you can be properly compensated for your losses and doctors can be held accountable for their errors.
Company Name: Law Offices of William S Leonard
Contact Person: Lisa Leonard, Esq.
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