How does the MICRA damage cap affect a California medical malpractice case?
Like many states, California has a law on the books that
limits the amount of money that an injured patient can receive even after a
jury has found that the patient’s doctor (or other health care provider)
You can find California’s take on medical malpractice damage
caps in the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which was passed in
1975. Among other things, MICRA places a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages
in medical malpractice cases. So, what are non-economic damages? They are
awarded to a plaintiff to compensate for things like pain and suffering, discomfort,
loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, and even the psychological impact of
scarring or disfigurement. They are called “non-economic” damages because they
represent the kinds of losses that cannot be easily measured by a dollar
Keep in mind that California has no cap on the amount of
money that an injured patient can receive as compensation for medical care
(past and future) made necessary by the malpractice, nor is there a cap on lost
income or impairment of the patient’s ability to earn a living because of the
malpractice. These kinds of losses would be categorized as economic damages,
and MICRA’s cap doesn’t affect them.
It’s important to note one of the more controversial aspects
of MICRA: the $250,000 cap has no provision that accounts for inflation; it is
the same dollar amount this year as it was when the law was passed in 1975.
Learn more about Damages
in Medical Malpractice Cases.
by: David Goguen, J.D.