The concept that doctors, while performing their profession, need to exercise a reasonable degree of care and skill dates back to the laws of ancient Rome and England. However many states in our country place medical caps or limits on the amount of money a person can receive after being injured by medical malpractice. California is one of those states and the cap has been in place for the last 40 years.
Now consumer advocates and victims of medical malpractice have a new ally in the fight for what is right and just. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer endorsed a proposed California ballot initiative on Monday to raise the state's cap on medical malpractice awards. The current cap is at $250,000 and the proposal would raise that amount to $1.1 million. A cap of $250,000 on non-economic damage could not possibly adequately cover a person who has been totally disabled due to the negligence of a medical professional. In fact, the reason Senator Boxer gave proponents of the measure for backing the ballot initiative is, "I will never forget meeting a child who was severely disfigured and forever confined to a wheelchair because of medical malpractice.” She went on to say, "I was stunned to learn how unfair California law is in terms of compensating these patients and their families.”
Who are these proponents that don’t wish to fully compensate victims of medical malpractice? You probably already guessed that it’s doctors and their insurance companies. Insurance companies have done a very good job of convincing both doctors and the general public that malpractice lawsuits and runaway jury verdicts are the reason healthcare is so expensive and insurance premiums are so high, but the data simply does not back that notion up. That argument assumes that without a cap, juries would start awarding millions of dollars to plaintiffs that didn’t deserve it. The proponents of the $250,000 cap assume that nobody, no matter what their situation, should get more than $250,000 in non-economic damages no matter what a jury of their peers might decide after carefully considering all of the evidence presented. Finally, the insurance companies are passing all the blame for their premiums to the attorneys and the clients they represent, without any word about profits. As Virginia (VA) medical malpractice lawyers, we know that these caps hurt people, but protect that profits of the insurance companies, and it is a shame more people don’t realize the same.