Is there a cap on damages in Wisconsin medical malpractice cases?
Yes. Like many states, Wisconsin has a statute on the books that places a limit or “cap” on the amount of compensation a plaintiff can receive in a medical malpractice case. The controversial impact of laws like this is that, even where a plaintiff establishes the defendant’s liability for malpractice, there is a limit on the actual amount of damages the jury can award, regardless of the plaintiff’s specific losses.
Wisconsin lawmakers have put a $750,000 per-occurrence cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. For the details, check out Wisconsin Stat. section 893.55.
So, what are “non-economic damages”? In any injury case, non-economic damages include compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Non-economic damages are said to be more “subjective” from plaintiff to plaintiff, and they’re not so easy to capture with a dollar amount.
Remember that Wisconsin does not cap economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Economic (sometimes called “special”) damages typically consist of payment for past and future medical care, reimbursement of lost income, compensation for lost earning capacity, and other financial losses that can be attributed to the defendant’s malpractice.
Editor's note: In July 2017, a Wisconsin appeals court ruled that the state's $750,000 cap on non-economic damages is "unconstitutional on its face." The decision is almost certain to be appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which could issue a definitive ruling on the issue, so stay tuned.
Learn more about Medical Malpractice Claims.
by: David Goguen, J.D.