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Higher cap on med mal damages in the hands of California voters

Lawmakers across the country have discussed and some have passed legislation that puts a cap on the amount of damages that a victim in a medical malpractice lawsuit may be awarded. California did just that back in 1975 when lawmakers put in place a $250,000 compensation cap under the Medical Industry Compensation Reform Act.

That amount hasn’t been updated since, and supporters of a new initiative claim that the number is woefully out of date. This new measure proposes to increase the cap to $1.1 million, a number that the Sacramento Bee says would account for inflation from when the original cap was put in place. The new initiative would also “index the cap for future inflation rates” instead of remaining stagnant.

Amending California medical malpractice compensation limits is more of a retroactive measure, one that would benefit victims after medical professional or hospital negligence has already occurred. This measure also proposes a proactive tool to hopefully prevent some errors from occurring. This proactive term would authorize the random drug testing of medical professionals that practice in California.

The president of Consumer Watchdog, Jamie Court, reiterated in a Reuters article that “patient safety laws have not been modernized for 38 years.” Court went on to say that “as a result dangerous doctors are not deterred and families victimized by medical negligence cannot get access to justice.”

As of Thursday, May 15, the decision over whether or not this proposal will move forward is in the hands of California voters. It has qualified for the ballot in the November elections.

Source: California Healthline, “Measure To Raise Medical Malpractice Cap Qualifies for Nov. Ballot,” May 16, 2014

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