In the early 1970’s, a medical insurance crisis supposedly gripped the State of California. In 1975, then (and current) Governor Jerry Brown called a special session of the California Legislature and the legislature passed the Medical Injury Compensation Recovery Act, known as MICRA. Since its enactment, California’s MICRA has been touted as a model of tort reform for the entire nation.
MICRA applies to actions (i.e. lawsuits) filed against a “health care provider” based on “professional negligence” or medical malpractice. MICRA’s most controversial element is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages for pain & suffering, regardless of how egregious the medical negligence or how serious the injury. The $250,000 limitation on non-economic damages is not indexed for inflation. There is also a limitation on attorney contingency fees in medical malpractice cases (40 % of the first $50,000, 33.33 % of the next $50,000, 25 % of the next $500,000, and 15 % of any amount that exceeds $600,000), the statute of limitations for actions against healthcare providers was shortened by MICRA, there is a requirement that there be advance notice of claims against healthcare providers, MICRA allows for binding arbitrations, MICRA abrogates the collateral source rule, and MICRA allows for doctors to pay judgments over time.
In California, there are certain causes of actions where MICRA’s cap on non-economic damages is not applicable. The following is a list of the types of cases, that when established, can allow for greater recovery: Battery (Perry v. Shaw (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 658), Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Actions (see CA Welfare & Institutions Code Section 15657), Fraud, Unfair Business Practices (CA Business and Professions Code Section 17200), unlicensed health care providers (including telemedicine care) for residents by out of state health care providers (Lathrop v. Healthcare Partners Medical Group (2004) 114 Cal.App.4th 1412) and a failure to summon medical care for a prisoner (Flores v. Natividad Medical Center (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 1106).
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.