What Is the Cap on Medical Malpractice in California?

Medical malpractice is the negligent failure of a health care professional or facility to take proper care of a patient, resulting in patient harm. Proper care fulfills all the expected standards within the medical industry, including during injury diagnosis and treatments. Medical malpractice happens every day in California. If you are the victim of medical malpractice, the at-fault party may owe you damage compensation. In California, a damage cap could limit how much you can recover.

About California’s Damage Cap

A damage cap limits the amount of money an injured victim could receive for his or her losses – usually only pertaining to certain types of compensation only, such as general or punitive damages. It is a controversial law that many states have banned after their courts ruled damage caps unconstitutional. A cap on medical malpractice damages still exists in California, however. There is currently a cap of $250,000 maximum per plaintiff. This cap applies only to noneconomic damages in medical malpractice claims.

Noneconomic damages are those that do not necessarily have a financial impact on the victim. They can include mental, emotional and other intangible damages, including lost quality of life, loss of consortium, emotional distress, mental anguish, grief, humiliation, depression, anxiety, etc. Any loss you incurred due to medical malpractice that did not affect you financially could qualify as a noneconomic damage. California’s $250,000 damage cap has no bearing on economic losses, however, such as medical bills and lost wages.

California courts calculate noneconomic damages in many ways. A jury might listen to the testimony of the victim and his or her family members in attesting to how much the incident impacted the victim mentally or emotionally. The jury might also take into account the opinions of experts, including physicians and psychologists.

What Is Your Case Worth?

It is important to understand the potential value of your California medical malpractice claim. That way, you can enter into insurance negotiations armed with knowledge about what your case is reasonably worth. An insurance company will not be able to convince you to settle for less after an attorney has given you an accurate depiction of your losses.

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Permanent injuries or chronic pain
  • Disability accommodations
  • Emotional injuries
  • Lost wages and future capacity to earn
  • Legal expenses and out-of-pocket costs
  • Punitive damages

The value of your case can depend on whether your injuries were catastrophic, how severely the malpractice impacted your life, if you have a disability because of the malpractice and many other factors. Regardless of the potential value of your claim, however, you will be unable to recover more than $250,000 for your noneconomic damages. The physical pain and psychological suffering connected to a permanent injury, disability or the wrongful death of a loved one will only ever amount to $250,000 in a medical malpractice case in California.

How to Maximize Your Medical Malpractice Recovery

Even with the damage cap, you may be able to maximize your financial recovery during a California medical malpractice claim by hiring an attorney. A Sacramento personal injury attorney will know how to obtain the best possible results for your claim despite a damage cap through aggressive negotiations, injury documentation and other critical actions.

Do your best to document your injury and the act of alleged malpractice. See a different doctor, keep copies of your medical records and take photographs of your injuries. Take all evidence and documentation you have acquired to a medical malpractice lawyer near you. A lawyer may be able to help you obtain full and fair compensation for your economic damages, as well as recovery for your noneconomic up to the state’s damage cap, depending on your case.