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
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.
by: David Goguen, J.D.