blog home Medical Law New California Ballot Initiative in 2022 Adjusts Limitations in Medical Negligence Cases

By Renee Nordstrand on October 5, 2021

An empty operating room in a hospital.

Medical professionals can be held liable in medical malpractice lawsuits for injuries they cause their patients through negligence. In 1975 California set a cap of $250,000 for medical malpractice noneconomic damages. These types of damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional trauma, scarring and disfigurement, and diminished quality of life. A new ballot initiative proposes to increase the $250,000 cap based on inflation since 1975.

How Would the New Ballot Initiative Increase the Medical Malpractice Noneconomic Damages Cap?

This ballot initiative proposes to increase the medical malpractice noneconomic damages cap based on inflation since 1975 and require the cap to be adjusted annually based on inflation during the previous year. The initiative also proposes to allow judges and juries the authority to award damages for catastrophic injuries above the amount of the cap. For these purposes, catastrophic injuries are defined as:

  • Permanent physical impairment
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Permanent disability
  • Permanent loss of consortium
  • Death

What Types of Injuries Fall Under the Catastrophic Injuries Category?

Our Santa Barbara medical malpractice lawyers have extensive experience representing clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries. Serious injuries with life-altering consequences that can result from medical malpractice include:

  • Birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy
  • Spinal cord injuries caused by surgical mistakes or misdiagnosis
  • Amputation resulting from medical errors
  • Brain injury caused by failure to timely diagnose heart attack or stroke, excessive bleeding during a procedure, or failure to properly intubate a patient during surgery
  • Wrongful death, of which medical errors are the third leading cause in the U.S.

How Prevalent Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a leading cause of injury and death nationwide. A total of $4,396,505,050 was paid out in medical malpractice claims in a recent year, according to Diederich Healthcare. Of that amount:

  • 21% was for significant permanent injury;
  • 20% was for major permanent injury;
  • 13% was for brain damage, quadriplegic, or lifelong care injuries; and
  • 28% was for death.

What Could the Ballot Initiative Mean for Catastrophic Injury Victims?

Patients who have suffered serious injury through the negligence of medical providers are entitled to compensation for their losses. The currently existing damage cap established by the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975 has had a tremendous impact on certain types of medical malpractice cases, according to an analysis performed by RAND. Cases particularly affected by damage award reductions have included birth injuries, young children with critical injuries, brain damage, paralysis, and wrongful death.

Although the new ballot initiative does not pertain to economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost earnings, or loss or earning potential, it could significantly increase the amount victims are able to recover for noneconomic losses in medical malpractice cases in the near future. Indexed to inflation, the current cap of $250,000 would be raised to approximately $1.1 million, as stated by RAND. This could make a substantial difference for the futures of medical malpractice victims and their families.

Why Choose NordstrandBlack PC?

Our Santa Barbara personal injury lawyers have more than 40 years of experience advocating for the rights of catastrophic injury victims and seeking all forms of rightful compensation on their behalf. We have the resources, knowledge, and skills to fight large insurance companies to win at trial. We are passionate about what we do and have the will to succeed.

If you have been seriously injured through medical negligence, it is important to take action to protect your rights. Since 1993, NordstrandBlack PC has been protecting the rights of people and families whose lives have been damaged by the negligent or wrongful actions of others. Call us at (805) 962-2022 to schedule a free consultation. We will explain your options under the law. If we represent you, we will fight for the maximum compensation available.

Posted in: Medical Law