In 1975 the California Legislature enacted the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) which among other things, severely limited the damages recoverable by a victim of malpractice injured by a medical error or the family of someone killed by a medical error to $250,000 for what are called noneconomic damages. Such damages for an injured person would be compensation for pain, suffering, disfigurement, the loss of a body part, and destruction of the quality of life. In wrongful death cases, the limit would apply to the family's loss of the love, companionship, and affection of the deceased, regardless of the number of dependents and loved ones left behind.
For 47 years the medical industrial lobbyists for doctors, hospitals, malpractice insurance companies and others fought to prevent legislative adjustments and ballot measures to update this outdated cap, denying malpractice victims and their families just compensation. Even worse, the cap made it economically impracticable for many lawyers to represent malpractice victims, closing the courthouse doors to these victims.
On May 23, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsome signed Assembly Bill 35, historic legislation championed by the Consumer Attorneys of California to begin adjusting the limits as of January 1, 2023. The cap for personal injury malpractice claims will rise to $350,000 as of January 1 and will increase by $40,000 every year for ten years until it reaches $750,000. Thereafter, it will increase by 2% every year. With respect to wrongful death malpractice claims, the cap jumps to $500,000 on January 1 and increases by $50,000 every year for ten years until it reaches $1,000,000 and increasing by 2% every year after that.
Currently, the law limits the victim of malpractice to one capped award of $250,000 for an injury, regardless of how many health care providers were negligent. Assembly Bill 35 changes that, by allowing a patient to seek up to three separate caps form negligent providers.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical errors, which is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States according to a John Hopkin's Medical Center report, contact the lawyers at Agnew Brusavich to find out more about AB 35 and how it may apply to your situation.