The California Supreme Court has recently announced that it plans to review the constitutionality of California's 39-year-old cap on medical malpractice damages. The cap, which was established by the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) limits recovery on non-economic damages – such as pain and injury and emotional distress – to $250,000. This cap has never been adjusted for inflation. The effect of the cap has been to deny those without significant wages fair compensation for their injuries – this includes children, the elderly and stay at home parents.
The case that the Supreme Court will be reviewing, Hughes v. Pham, involves a man who was injured while riding an all-terrain vehicle. As the result of the physician's delay in treatment, the injury worsened – leading to permanent spinal cord damage. Hughes now has diminished motor function, bowel and bladder function, and sexual function. At the end of his medical malpractice trial, the jury awarded him $2,750,000 in non-economic damages related to his pain and suffering. The verdict was then reduced pursuant to California's cap.
Plaintiffs appealed, asserting that MICRA's cap on non-economic damages violated the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, their right to a jury trial, and the separation of powers doctrine by impinging on the authority of the courts to decide cases and enter judgments.
As San Francisco personal injury attorneys dedicated to ensuring all victims of medical malpractice obtain the compensation they deserve, we will be watching this case closely.
For more information or if you believe you have suffered any type of harm as the result of medical malpractice, please contact our dedicated San Francisco medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.