Is there a cap on medical malpractice damages in South
Yes. South Dakota, like a lot
of states, has a law on the books that places a limit or “cap” on the amount of
compensation a plaintiff can receive in a medical
malpractice case. The effect of laws like this is that, even after a
plaintiff proves that the defendant committed malpractice -- and the jury
reaches the same conclusion -- this law limits the actual amount of damages
that the plaintiff can be awarded.
In South Dakota,
non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $500,000, according to S.D.
Cod. Laws section 21-3-11. This includes cases against almost any kind of
health care provider you can think of, including physicians, chiropractors,
optometrists, dentists, hospitals, registered nurses, physicians' assistants,
and corporate employers.
So, what are non-economic
(also called “general” damages)? They include compensation for
things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and the loss of enjoyment
of life that result from the malpractice. 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.
Economic damages, on the
other hand, 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 doctor or hospital error on which the malpractice lawsuit is based.
South Dakota does not cap economic damages in medical malpractice
cases, and that’s an important distinction to keep in mind. Learn more about Damages
in Medical Malpractice Cases.
by: David Goguen, J.D.