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California Trial Attorneys Work to Increase Medical Malpractice Caps

On May 15, Proposition 46 gained enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Under Proposition 46, trial attorneys are seeking to increase the amount of money patients are entitled to under a medical malpractice claim. Proponents of the measure feel that the current caps severely restrict juries from awarding the amount of damages they feel are appropriate in some medical malpractice claims. However, those against the measure argue that the current caps have worked to lower medical malpractice insurance for medical providers thereby keep medical costs lower.

Under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975, non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $250,000 in the State of California. This act was the model for laws in many other states that wanted to limit the amount of money juries can award in medical malpractice cases. However, Proposition 46 seeks to raise the cap to $1.1 million. It also provides for annual increases going forward. Legal watchdog groups have alleged that trial lawyers are the ones that are behind the push to increase the cap on non-economic damages. However, Consumer Attorneys of California feel that by raising the cap, doctors will be motivated to do a better job for each patient.

Economic damages are easy to determine by looking at the actual cost incurred due to a medical malpractice injury such as funeral expenses, lost wages and medical expenses. However, measuring the pain and suffering that has been inflicted on a patient due to the negligent acts of a medical provider are much more difficult to value. When it involves the loss of a family member, $250,000 seems very little for a family who has suffered such a tragic and senseless loss. Some opponents argue that juries should be allowed to view all of the evidence and award higher verdicts in cases that involve grossly negligent acts or where the patient or family has suffered a great loss due to the acts of a medical provider.

It is also argued that the current law was enacted in 1975 when $250,000 was a much larger sum of money than it is by todays current economy. They argue that the amount must be raised to reflect inflation in order to prevent doctors and other medical professionals from viewing medical malpractice as simply a part of doing business because they know that even if they do have a claim, they will not be required to pay more than $250,000 in non-economic damages no matter how negligent or reckless their behavior may have been toward their patient.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the careless or reckless acts of a medical provider, you need to contact an experienced Sacramento medical malpractice attorney immediately. You only have a limited amount of time to file a medical malpractice claim and every day that you wait to contact an attorney is putting your ability to collect damages at risk. You are entitled to receive damages for your injuries even though the damages may current have a cap, that could be changing and you need to protect your right hold the person responsible for your injuries liable for his acts.