|In 1975, California enacted the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (“MICRA”), which was intended to lower medical malpractice liability insurance premiums for healthcare providers by decreasing their potential tort liability. One provision of MICRA placed a cap of $250,000 on noneconomic damages recoverable in medical malpractice lawsuits. The constitutionality of this and other provisions of MICRA was challenged and rejected in the years following its enactment. This cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits is the only limit on damages that California has in any type of personal injury case, and the cap remained at $250,000 for over 40 years; however, new legislation is raising the cap.
California Assembly Bill 35, which was passed on May 23, 2022, raises the cap on noneconomic damages recoverable in medical malpractice lawsuits. Effective January 1, 2023, noneconomic damages in medical malpractice suits that do not include wrongful death are capped at $350,000, and noneconomic damages in medical malpractice suits that include a claim for wrongful death are capped at $500,000. Thereafter, the cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases that do not include wrongful death will be increased by $40,000 each January 1, for 10 years, up to $750,000, and the cap on cases that include wrongful death will be increased by $50,000 each January 1, for 10 years, up to $1,000,000. Finally, beginning on January 1, 2034, these amounts will be adjusted for inflation on January 1 of each year by 2 percent. These provisions are not retroactive, so all medical malpractice cases filed prior to January 1, 2023, will remain subject to the cap of $250,000 on noneconomic damages.
For more information or assistance with medical malpractice matters, please contact our office.