In the 1970’s, the State of Virginia capped awards in medical malpractice lawsuits at $750,000. In 2008, the cap was increased to $2 million. On February 24, 2011, according to an article in The Washington Post, the General Assembly in Virginia agreed to raise awards in medical malpractice lawsuits $50,000 each year starting in 2012. The bill calls for an increase from a cap of $2 million starting in 2012 and then $50,000 each year until 2031. The cap applies to “any verdict returned against a health care provider in an action for malpractice.”
How does this compare to the State of California? While California does not have a cap on overall damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, California does have a cap on non-economic damages for things such as pain, suffering, and loss of companionship. The Medical Injury Compensation Recovery Act of 1975, known as MICRA, sets a limit on non-economic damages at no more than $250,000 in California. This cap on non-economic damages has not changed in over 36 years!!!
Using an inflation calculator based on data from U.S. government’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), $250,000 in 1975 is equivalent to a whopping $1,023.341 in the year 2011. That’s an increase of over 300%. Or, another way of putting it, $250,000 in 2011 is equivalent to only $61,074 in 1975.
The non-economic damages cap in California is particularly unfair to young children, the elderly, the disabled, and stay-at-home parents. Basically, anyone who was not working or underemployed at the time of their injury or death. As a result of the substantial costs involved in pursuing a medical malpractice case, the cap on non-economic damages prevents many California citizens who have been harmed by a doctor or hospital, through no fault of their own, from being able to seek justice.
For more information, or if you or a loved one, have been injured as the result of medical malpractice in California, please contact the experienced lawyers at Mulligan, Banham & Findley. Our telephone number is 619-238-8700.