Does Massachusetts cap medical malpractice damages?
Yes. Like dozens of other states, Massachusetts has a law on the books that limits or “caps” certain types of damages (compensation, in other words) available to a plaintiff who has been successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Massachusetts caps non-economic damages at $500,000 in medical malpractice cases (though exceptions exist; more on this below). So, what are non-economic damages, you ask? They include compensation for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering, lost enjoyment, anxiety, disfigurement, and other effects of the defendant’s medical negligence. These kinds of damages aren’t easily captured by a dollar figure, and they are more subjective from plaintiff to plaintiff.
It’s important to note that Massachusetts has placed no cap on the other main type of damages available to a medical malpractice plaintiff, which is economic damages. This includes compensation for past medical expenses, ongoing medical care lost income, and any damage to the plaintiff’s ability to earn a living.
Finally, the Massachusetts cap on non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case will not apply if it is shown that the plaintiff's injuries include a substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function, or substantial disfigurement, or if some other special circumstance exists which warrants a finding that use of the cap would deprive the plaintiff of fair compensation for his or her injuries.
Learn more about damages in a medical malpractice case.