In California, compensation for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases is capped at $250,000, according to the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which Governor Jerry Brown enacted back in 1975. This may all change, depending on how Californians vote on Proposition 46.
Proposition 46 seeks to shake up the medical industry by enforcing stricter regulatory measures on physicians to further ensure the safety of patients and adjusting for inflation MICRA’s medical malpractice cap on pain and suffering. Its provisions are as follows:
- Alcohol and drug testing of certain physicians would be required.
- Physicians would need to review the statewide prescription database before prescribing controlled substances.
- The pain and suffering cap for medical malpractice would be increased from $250,000 to $1.1 million and adjusted annually for future inflation.
Detractors of Proposition 46 believe that approval of the bill would only serve to stuff the pockets of malpractice trial lawyers, leaving the public to pay the costs. They also believe doctors and other medical specialists would be forced to move to states with more affordable liability insurance, lowering the quality of health care in California in the process.
Supporters counter the arguments posed by detractors by pointing to the statistics on medical malpractice: every year at least 10,000 Californians lose their lives due to medical malpractice, and estimates show that approximately 18 percent of health professionals suffer an abuse problem in their lifetimes. They believe that Proposition 46 would serve to hold negligent health doctors accountable and give patients much-needed protections. Governor Jerry Brown, who has expressed regret for signing MICRA into law, is among the supporters.
While opponents of Proposition 46 argue that its only purpose is to increase fees to “greedy” lawyers, the truth is that if the $250,000 cap is raised, the attorney will only receive approximately 15 percent of the additional recovery, whereas the victim and families of the victim of medical malpractice will receive 85 percent of the additional recovery. Therefore, the clear purpose of the increase in the cap is to obtain fair compensation for the victim and families of the victim of medical malpractice.
Also, the fee an attorney can charge in medical malpractices cases is set by law, and is much lower than the fees charged in other types of personal injury cases, such as automobile accidents. Proposition 46 does not increase the limited fees an attorney can charge for medical malpractice cases.
At the Woodland Hills personal injury law firm of Kahn Roven, we are hopeful that Proposition 46 will pass because it will decrease the incidents of medical malpractice. If you wish to discuss your own medical malpractice case with one of our excellent attorneys, please call us today at (818) 888-9171.