What is Medical Malpractice?
We entrust doctors and physicians with our care and the care of our loved ones. We put our lives in their hands, believing that their medical expertise is the most assured way for us to heal our wounds, recover from illness, and achieve better health. So it can feel like a deep betrayal when doctors, nurses, other physicians, and hospitals are the very reason why we get hurt, sick, or, in some cases, lose the lives of our loved ones.
A medical malpractice case is a legal claim that victims or their loved ones can bring against medical professionals, alleging that a patient suffered injury, disability, illness, or death as a direct result of the physicians’ negligence or recklessness. Medical professionals are expected to perform their duties at a certain community standard of care. When they fail to meet that standard, people can get hurt, and those people should be allowed the chance to seek damages for their losses.
Common medical malpractice claims include:
- Birth injuries.
- Delayed diagnosis.
- Disregard the patient’s medical history.
- Failure to order potentially lifesaving testing.
- Failure to provide the patient with informed consent so they were aware of all the risks involved in a procedure.
- Failure to recommend adequate medical care.
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose.
- Misreading or disregarding laboratory results.
- Nursing negligence.
- Poor follow-up or aftercare.
- Premature discharge from the hospital.
- Prescribing the wrong medication or the proper medication at the wrong dose.
- Surgery to the wrong site on the body.
- Unnecessary surgeries.
If you believe you have a case for medical malpractice, please contact our law firm to discuss your claim with our legal team. Our law firm has years of legal experience representing medical malpractice cases in California. To learn more, please schedule a free consultation.
What Types of Damages May Be Recovered in a Medical Malpractice Case?
While California personal injury law generally favors victims, that rule does not apply to medical malpractice victims. There is a strict cap on how much a medical malpractice injury victim can hope to recover and compensation for their pain and suffering.
That said, winning a medical malpractice case and collecting financial compensation for your losses is possible. The settlement may compensate you for economic and non-economic damages. Compensation could include lost wages, lost future income, medical bills, physical therapy expenses, emotional distress, lost companionship, and wrongful death.
It is important to note that the cap for medical malpractice compensation only applies to non-economic damages. Economic damages, like lost wages and medical expenses, will be paid back in full with a successful medical malpractice claim. It is only non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and wrongful death, that are capped by California law.
Please contact our law firm for a complete understanding of damage caps for personal injury cases.
What is California’s Damage Cap for Medical Malpractice Claims?
The California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MIRCA) was passed in 1975. The law placed a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Over the years, California has repeatedly attempted to raise the damaged cap to reflect the change in times, as the state became known across the country for having one of the lowest damage caps for medical malpractice injuries.
When the Act was passed in 1975, $250,000 was equivalent to $1.3 million today. To say it was long past time for an update to the cap would be an understatement.
Changes to the law weren’t made until May 23rd, 2022, when Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 35 into law. On January 1st, 2023, the change to the law finally went into effect, nearly half a century after the original (some would say Draconian) law was passed.
The new modernized damages cap amends the Act and modernizes it. Under the new law, medical malpractice non-economic damages are now capped at $350,000 with annual increases of $40,000 until 2034, when the new cap reaches $750,000. In 2034, the cap will be adjusted for inflation by 2% annually.
The law also differentiates personal injury claims from wrongful death claims. The damaged cap for medical malpractice wrongful death has been raised to $500,000 instead of the original $250,000. The amount for wrongful death claims will increase annually by $50,000 until 2034, when it will reach $1 million. The cap will also be adjusted for inflation every year by 2%.
Additionally, the damage caps apply to different categories of medical professionals. These three categories are health care providers, health care institutions (like hospitals), and unaffiliated health care providers or institutions. If you have a medical malpractice claim that theoretically applies to each of the three categories, you could potentially triple your compensation as the cap separates the three categories in your claim.
The changes to California’s medical malpractice damages caps are good news for victims of medical malpractice injuries. That said, there is still a long way to go, according to many victim’s advocates.
Contact Us for a Free Case Evaluation
The Law Office of Daniel Deng proudly represents personal injury victims of California. Medical malpractice is one of the saddest, and one should hope most preventable, accidents to suffer an injury or loss of life. If you or a loved one have been affected by medical negligence, you deserve the chance to fight for compensation for your losses. Our law firm prides itself on providing compassionate legal services to clients in need.