California's MICRA Limits Your Potential Award for Medical Malpractice Claimants

California's MICRA sets a limit to the amount of compensation you can receive from a medical malpractice claim.Medical malpractice is a particularly complex and often misunderstood area of law. Not only do plaintiffs have to prove a bad and injurious outcome, but they also have to show that the outcome came about as a result of receiving substandard or negligent care. Additionally—to add insult to injury—California has an old statute, known as the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), that limits the financial award that plaintiffs can receive for certain types of medical malpractice related damages, making it even more difficult for plaintiffs to secure the fair compensation they need and deserve. Understanding the MICRA, as well as seeking representation from a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney, can help you explore your legal rights more effectively.

Types of Awards in Medical Malpractice Cases

Plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases can generally pursue two different types of compensation related to the malpractice: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages Can Include:

  • Past and future medical care related to the malpractice, include hospital stays, doctors visits, treatments, rehabilitative therapy, and any specialty medical equipment

  • Compensation for lost wages if the injuries resulting from the malpractice cause you to miss work

  • Loss of future earning potential if the malpractice related injuries in question force you into a lower paying job

Easily measurable and quantifiable, the economic damages plaintiffs can receive in California medical malpractice cases are not subject to any sort of limitations.

Medical malpractice plaintiffs can also seek compensation for non-economic damages, which are much harder to quantify. Also known as pain and suffering damages, non-economic damages refer to things that reduce a plaintiff's enjoyment of life, such as:

  • Intense or prolonged physical pain

  • Emotional suffering

  • Anxiety

  • Psychological impact of injuries such as scarring or disfigurement

  • Loss of limbs or mobility

  • Loss of vision

  • Loss of fertility

  • Discomfort

  • Loss of enjoyment of life

  • Anxiety

  • Loss of a parent, spouse, or child

How the MICRA Affects Non-Economic Awards

In 1975, California legislators passed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, or MICRA, that capped financial awards for non-economic pain and suffering damages at $250,000. The MICRA was passed in response to a much-disputed public health crisis involving the rising cost of medical malpractice insurance premiums for medical professionals.

While as many as half the states in the United States limit the amount plaintiffs can receive for non-economic pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice cases, California's MICRA is thought to be particularly controversial, as the statute does not account for inflation. The maximum financial award a medical malpractice plaintiff can receive remains the exact same as it was when the MICRA was passed in 1975—$250,000—despite the fact, after decades of inflation, the figure offers less than 75 percent of its original buying power.

In addition to making it difficult—if not impossible—for medical malpractice plaintiffs to secure fair and just financial awards for their pain and suffering, the MICRA can also make it hard for plaintiffs to find suitable legal representation. Medical malpractice cases are complex, lengthy and can difficult to prove. Some personal injury attorneys who work on a contingency basis—meaning that they're only paid if your medical malpractice claim is successful—may not want to take the risk.

Do You Need Help With Your Medical Malpractice Case?

Plaintiffs who file medical malpractice cases in California can benefit from the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. The personal injury recovery professionals with the Inland Empire Law Group have successfully handled numerous medical malpractice cases for clients in Victorville, Fontana, and Rancho Cucamonga areas, and are eager to discuss how they can help you fight for the compensation you need and deserve. Call us today for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your medical malpractice case or complete our online contact form.