MICRA Explained: Why Does California Cap its Medical Malpractice Damages?

Author: Nicki Malekadeli
Posted on: November 27, 2019

Patients turn to their doctors and health care providers to treat their illnesses. However, unfortunate circumstances brought by negligence could reverse the situation. Health care professionals’ actions could become the source of a patient’s pain and suffering. This situation is called medical malpractice.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice happens when a patient is harmed by a health care professional, doctor, or hospital. The harm experienced by the victim may be caused by negligence. The act of negligence might be brought about by incorrect diagnosis, wrongful treatments and aftercare, or inappropriate health care management.

Damages refer to the money a victim pursues in a medical malpractice case. Below are the necessary features for a medical malpractice claim to be considered as such:

  • An act is considered medical malpractice if it violates the standard of care. The standard of care refers to the acceptable procedures in the medical field. These approaches may differ because of certain factors such as age, state of health, and other illnesses a patient has. If there is an established link between the breach of acceptable procedures and injury obtained, then there is negligence present in the situation.
  • The second characteristic of medical malpractice is the proven connection between the negligence and injury sustained by the victim. The violation of the standard of care is not sufficient for a medical malpractice claim to be valid. The victim, with the help of a medical malpractice attorney, must prove that the negligence is the cause of the injury.
  • The last feature of medical malpractice is the significant damages caused by the injury. It is crucial to substantiate the victim’s claims. Several testimonies from medical professionals are required to win in a medical malpractice case. Thus, the legal proceedings involved in this type of situation require a significant amount of money. There are times that the cost of the litigation is more than the money received by the victim. It is the responsibility of the victim and the legal counsel to prove that the injury caused pain, suffering, disability, loss of opportunities, and medical bills.

Also, according to the California Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5, medical malpractice in California must be brought to the court within one year of negligence discovery.

Understanding MICRA

California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) affects the damages received by an individual affected by medical malpractice. The law applies to injury and wrongful death cases. The MICRA limits the amount of money received for an injury due to medical malpractice. Two types of injuries can be sustained because of medical negligence. These are economic losses and non-economic losses. MICRA is only concerned about non-economic damages.

The law was passed in 1975, and the amount of cap did not inflate since then. There are efforts to increase the cap to $1.1M but no avail. California remains one of the states that cap its medical malpractice claims. Thus, persons affected by medical malpractice struggle with this unreasonable limit for the negligence caused by medical professionals or hospitals.

Economic Losses

Economic losses, also known as special damages, are measurable damages incurred by a sustained injury. These include medical bills, loss of income, and earning opportunities. MICRA does not cap economic costs. There is no limit to the amount of money a person can recover due to quantifiable injuries incurred because of medical malpractice.

Even though MICRA does not cap economic losses, it still negatively affects individuals with low-income, elderly, and children. Economic damages are limited to an insignificant amount because of their state. In effect, these injured persons rely on the claims for non-economic losses for their recovery.

Non-Economic Losses

However, MICRA caps claim for non-economic losses, or general damages, to $250,000. General damages are unquantifiable injuries sustained by an individual. These include psychological trauma, pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment concerning life. This type of injury significantly affects an injured person. It stays with them even after their wounds and bruises heal.

In cases of wrongful death due to medical malpractice, non-economic damages include loss of care, companionship, protection, and comfort. Families of dead victims due to medical malpractice also need to struggle with the fact that the MICRA limit applies to the lawsuit and not to the individual. Thus, even if numerous families are charging for wrongful deaths, all families will share with the $250,000.

Consult Medical Malpractice Attorneys in California

Despite the limit set by MICRA, experienced medical malpractice attorneys in California will help victims of medical malpractice through their journey of recovering rightful claims. If you or someone you know suffered from medical malpractice, it is advisable to contact a medical malpractice lawyer in California to help with your case. The victims must hold the perpetrators responsible for the pain and suffering they experienced in the hands of people who are supposed to cure them.

Get in touch with Mesriani Law Group today and achieve the outcome you need and deserve.