In the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 (MICRA), the California legislature placed a $250,000 cap on medical malpractice awards. When it was passed, the purpose of MICRA was to help keep medical malpractice premiums down for California doctors and hospitals. The cap applies to noneconomic damages, often referred to as “pain and suffering.” There is currently no cap on economic damages, or the actual damages patients or patients’ families incur due to medical malpractice.
The cap on noneconomic damages has been the subject of much debate in California, especially in recent years. Opponents of MICRA claim that the cap provides insufficient compensation to those who experience great emotional damage due to medical malpractice even though their economic damages may be small.
Consumer Watchdog is one of MICRA’s major opponents. The group successfully placed the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act on California’s 2014 ballot. Among other changes, the Act would raise the medical malpractice damage cap to $1.1 million to factor in inflation. On November 6, 2014, California voters will have the opportunity to vote for or against the new act.
Proponents of MICRA, such as the California Medical Association (CMA), claim that an increase in the damage cap could lead to increased medical malpractice insurance premiums and skyrocketing healthcare costs. The CMA claims that an increased damage cap would draw a large number of meritless lawsuits that would make healthcare more expensive. The CMA and other MICRA supporters worry that the changes proposed in the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act will put many doctors out of business.
If you are the victim of medical malpractice, you have the right to be compensated for your damages.