Does Utah law limit damages in medical malpractice cases?
Yes. Like most U.S. states, Utah has a law on the books that limits or “caps” 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 proves that the defendant committed malpractice -- and a jury reaches the same conclusion -- the actual amount of damages the plaintiff can be awarded is limited.
Also like most states, Utah’s cap applies only to non-economic damages, limiting those to $450,000 for any medical malpractice case arising after May 15, 2010. You can find the full text of this law at Utah Code section 78B-3-410.
So, what are these all-important “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 Utah does not cap economic damages, which 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 malpractice on which the lawsuit is based.
Learn more: Medical Malpractice Q&A.
by: David Goguen, J.D.