For the first time in nearly five decades, the amount of money California plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases can receive for pain and suffering will increase.
This week, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 35 into law overhauling the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975, known as MICRA.
MICRA sets no limit to how much patients in medical malpractice cases can be awarded for damages related to medical bills and lost earnings.
Under the newly signed AB 35, the cap patients can be awarded for non-death pain and suffering cases will increase to $350,000 beginning Jan. 1, 2023. Then, over the next 10 years, that cap will rise to $750,000.
In cases involving a death, the cap on pain and suffering will increase to $500,000 in 2023, with subsequent increases rising to $1 million over the next decade. After ten years of gains, the cap on non-economic damages will be adjusted annually by 2% for inflation.
The new provisions apply only to cases filed after Jan. 1, 2023, and will not apply to any ongoing matters.
Additionally, the law creates three separate categories for non-economic damage caps. One type of payment would cover providers, while another type would cover the healthcare organization. A third payment will be allowed for rare cases involving a separate, unaffiliated provider, bringing the total potential award to $1.5 million.
The law also adjusts contingency fees for lawyers in medical malpractice cases.
MICRA has been the subject of costly fights for decades through ballot measures, the courts, and the legislature.
“After decades of negotiations, legislators, patient groups, and medical professionals have reached a consensus that protects patients and the stability of our health care system,” Newsom said in a statement.
For the full text of the bill, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
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