Does Missouri limit damages in medical malpractice cases?
In recent years, Missouri's cap on damages in medical malpractice cases has been ruled unconstitutional, and then reworked by the state legislature. As of August 2015, Missouri, like dozens of other states, has a law on the books that caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, basically limiting the amount of money that a successful plaintiff can be awarded even after a jury has held that the defendant is liable for committing medical malpractice.
Until 2012, Missouri's cap for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases was firmly set at $350,000. In 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court held that the law was an unconstitutional violation of the right to a jury trial. Then, in 2015, Missouri Revised Statutes section 538.210.1 took effect. This law says that in any medical malpractice lawsuit alleging damages caused by the provision of health care services (or the failure to provide health services), the plaintiff won't be able to recover more than $400,000 as compensation for non-economic losses. The $400,000 cap remains in place regardless of the number of health care providers that are sued as part of the medical malpractice lawsuit.
Section 538.210.1 also increases the non-economic damages cap to $700,000 in medical malpractice cases involving "catastrophic personal injury" or wrongful death.
Non-economic damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the negative effects of medical malpractice that aren't easily calculable, and are more subjective from plaintiff to plaintiff. They include compensation for pain and suffering, stress and anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring and disfigurement, and similar losses caused by the defendant's malpractice.
Learn more about damages in medical malpractice cases.
by: David Goguen, J.D.