As of January 1, 2023, the law concerning medical malpractice claims 3333.2 has had some major changes which will have a dramatic impact on those who have suffered injuries or death due to the negligent conduct of medical practitioner. So how do the new 2023 non-economic medical malpractice limits benefit injured victims? Let’s take a look at the previous law to provide a baseline in the evaluation of the new law.
Before Discussing the New Non-Economic Medical Malpractice Limits, Let’s Look Back at the Previous Limits
Since 1975, until December 31, 2022, the State of California had very draconian limits on the recovery of damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other similar general, or non-economic damages. Prior to January 1, 2023, the limit on the financial recovery for these damages was $250,000.00. This limit remained the same without any adjustment for inflation thereby causing the real value of the recovery to shrink annually until the end of 2022. Additionally, this limit applied regardless of the number of people or businesses that were involved in the particular injury.
With the help of a number of people such as Nicholas Rowley, organizations, such as the Consumer Attorneys of California, the California Medical Association, and politicians including Gov. Gavin Newsom, the law and the limits were changed for the better of those injured by medical malpractice (negligence). First, these changes impact any medical malpractice claim that is filed on or after January 1, 2023. That means that if a person was a victim of medical negligence in 2022, but did not file a lawsuit until 2023, the new limits will apply. (Please note that if you had a 2022 medical negligence injury, you have a limit of only one year to file a lawsuit. Do not delay in calling a medical malpractice attorney to see if you have a claim.)
CALL 909-481-0100, or submit your information, to have our Southern California medical malpractice attorney evaluate your claim.
Critical Changes in the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act
First - the dollar limit for non-economic losses to compensate for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement and other non-pecuniary damage starts out with different limits for injuries and for death claims.
(a) In any action for injury against a health care provider or health care institution based on professional negligence, the injured plaintiff shall be entitled to recover non-economic losses to compensate for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement and other non-pecuniary damage, subject to the limitations in this section.
(b) In any action for injury that does not involve wrongful death against one or more health care providers or health care institutions based on professional negligence, the following limitations shall apply:
(1) For non-death claims, the recovery shall not exceed three hundred fifty thousand dollars ($350,000), regardless of the number of affiliated health care providers.
(2) An additional three hundred fifty thousand dollars ($350,000), may be available if there is an additional unaffiliated health care institutions responsible for non-economic.
(3) Finally, a third three hundred fifty thousand dollars ($350,000) could be available in the event a third non-affiliated institution contributed to the injury based on acts of professional negligence separate and independent from the acts of professional negligence of a defendant described in paragraph (1) or (2) and that occurred at, or in relation to medical transport to, a health care institution unaffiliated with a health care institution described in paragraph (2).
In the event the medical malpractice resulted in a death, then recovery shall not exceed five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000), similar to the above application to the respective possible defendants.
The additional benefit provided to those who will be injured in the future, there is a built in annual increase of forty thousand dollars $40,000 annually for non-death claims, for the next 10 years until the general damages limits reach seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($750,000.00). Thereafter, the amount will be adjusted by 2% annually.
For future death claims, the ten year annual increases will be fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) until the amount reaches one million dollars $1,000,000. Thereafter, the amount will be adjusted by 2% annually.
There is some additional language in the code that states “The dollar amount in effect at the time of judgment, arbitration award, or settlement shall apply to an action, . . ..” This appears to mean that if a case is filed in 2023, but the recovery occurs in a later year, the amount increases to the current amount allowable. This will be determined in future years and may be subject to judicial interpretation.
Finally, “Professional negligence” is defined as “a negligent act or omission to act by a health care provider in the rendering of professional services, which act or omission is the proximate cause of a personal injury or wrongful death, provided that such services are within the scope of services for which the provider is licensed and which are not within any restriction imposed by the licensing agency or licensed hospital.”
These limits only apply to the recovery of non-pecuniary damages. Additional damages for past and future medical expenses, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, and other out of pocket expenses, or future expenses can be recovered.
How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in California?
Making sure to file a claim before the statute of limitations expires is the only way to ensure your right to recover damages. In the video below, medical malpractice attorney David Ricks discusses how long you have to file a claim in California:
Contact Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney in Southern California
If you have a possible claim which occurred in Southern California, you must have a skilled medical malpractice attorney that has years of experience and knowledge to work through the challenges associated with malpractice claims.To learn more about the new non-economic medical malpractice limits for 2023 or to have your possible medical malpractice claim in Southern California reviewed, please contact our firm at your earliest opportunity. Either submit your information on our website and we will contact you, or give us a call at 909-481-0100 and we will discuss your case with you.