Is there a cap on damages in Oregon medical malpractice cases?
Yes, but only in cases where the defendant’s medical malpractice played a role in causing a patient’s wrongful death.
First, it helps to understand what damage caps are. In the context of a medical malpractice case, they are laws that place a limit on the amount of money that a plaintiff can receive, even after the plaintiff proves -- and a jury agrees -- that the defendant’s malpractice caused harm.
A lot of states have passed medical malpractice damage caps. Most states cap (or limit) non-economic damages, which include compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other more subjective losses stemming from the malpractice.
Oregon is fairly unique among states in that its damage cap only applies to non-economic damages in wrongful death cases arising from medical malpractice. That cap is set at $500,000 under Oregon law.
A wrongful death case is brought by the heirs or personal representatives of the deceased, and non-economic damages are usually available to compensate both the deceased pre-death pain and suffering, and the loss of companionship and other emotional losses suffered by the heirs or other family members bringing the wrongful death lawsuit. (Learn more about wrongful death lawsuits.)
Keep in mind that Oregon has no cap on economic damages in medical malpractice cases (whether they involve wrongful death or not). So, there is no limit on compensation for medical treatment (past and future), lost income, lost earning capacity, loss of financial support, and other calculable harm caused by the defendant’s malpractice.
Learn more about Medical Malpractice Damages.
by: David Goguen, J.D.