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Chapter Six: How You Can Help Lady Justice

How You Can Help Improve California’s Tort Reform Laws

As discussed in these articles, the California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act has maintained the same unfair cap of $250,000 for pain and suffering damages and wrongful death claims for forty years. This unfair cap has rendered many viable medical malpractice claims too expensive for all but the most confident and expert attorneys to take on.

Forty years. That’s a long time. A quick trip down memory lane shows that, in 1975, a gallon of gas cost 59 cents, a stamp cost 13 cents, a new home cost $48,000, and you could have seen Jaws, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, or The Return of the Pink Panther for about two dollars at the local movie theater.[1] While the cost of living has risen exponentially, pain and suffering damages for people whose lives were changed forever by the negligence of doctors and hospitals have remained fixed.

Not every state has a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits. And some state courts have overturned the caps as unconstitutional. For example, in the case, Estate of Michelle Evette McCall v. U.S., where the family of a new mother who died while under the negligent care of the U.S. Airforce sued the United States, the Florida Supreme Court held that Florida's cap on noneconomic damages violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Florida Constitution. One of the reasons the Court provided for why the cap on noneconomic damages violated the Equal Protection Clause was that it imposed an “unfair and illogical burdens on injured parties when an act of medical negligence gives rise to multiple claimants.”[2] The Court also noted that Florida’s cap on noneconomic damages had “the effect of saving a modest amount for many by imposing devastating costs on a few – those who are most grievously injured, those who sustain the greatest damage and loss, and multiple claimants for whom judicially determined noneconomic damages are subject to division and reduction simply based upon the existence of the cap.”[3]

Can California ever become like Florida, or the many other states which have raised, eliminated, or never created caps on pain and suffering damages for medical malpractice? Thankfully, the answer is, “Yes.” Laws are changed all the time, by the legislatures who enacted them, at the urging of the voters who vote legislators into office. Every citizen can make a difference. Whether or not you are suffering today from medical malpractice, it could happen to you tomorrow. Don't let the doctors and the hospitals, who are supposed to be bound by the sacred Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, have the loudest voice. If you live in California, call, write or e-mail your state representative and ask that MICRA be repealed today.[4] In the meantime, if you live in California or another state that has an unfair cap on pain and suffering damages for medical malpractice, you can try to circumvent it by selecting an attorney who will advocate for the greatest amount of damages possible.

A Final Word of Caution

Please remember that this book is meant for general educational purposes only and not legal advice regarding a specific case. Reading this book does not create an attorney-client relationship with our office. To do that, you will need to personally contact our office, discuss your case fully, and sign a written Attorney-Client Agreement with our office. If you have a specific medical malpractice claim, you should contact our office or an experienced attorney of your choice AT ONCE for specific and accurate legal advice and representation. If you delay, you may lose all your legal rights.

  • Attorney Moseley Collins
  • Attorney John Kinney
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  • Moseley Collins Law
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  • Nationwide: 800.426.5546
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[1] Comparing the Cost of Living Between 1975 and 2015: You Are Being Lied and Fooled When it Comes to Inflation Data and the Cost of Living, My Budget 360, http://www.mybudget360.com/cost-of-living-compare-1975-2015-inflation-price-changes-history/ (last visited Sept. 18, 2019).

[2] Estate of McCall v. United States, 134 So. 3d 894, 901 (Fla. 2014).

[3] Estate of McCall v. United States, 134 So. 3d 894, 903 (Fla. 2014).

[4] California State Legislature, http://www.legislature.ca.gov/your_legislator.html (last visited Sept. 18, 2019).


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