For the first time in decades California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) cap has been lifted by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

On May 23, 2022 Governor Newson signed AB35 legislationto modernize the system for awarding damages in medical malpractice cases in California.”

What the legislation changes:

  • The cap for non-economic or pain and suffering damages in non-death cases will be raised to $350,000 from the prior limit of $250,000. Additionally, there will be a gradual increase to take place over the next 10 years that will boost the cap to $1,000,000. 
  • The cap for non-economic damages will be modified for inflation after the 10-year increase.
  • The cap for the death of a patient/party has been increased to $500,000 with a similar increased scale to occur over a 10-year period.
  • A novel chapter will be introduced related to discovery and evidence of admissions or showing remorse via an apology or statement. The new chapter of the Health and Safety Code will likely restrict the use as evidence of such statements made before a lawsuit or litigation has commenced.

Who the changes affect:

  • Families:  This will impact all families of aggrieved patients in medical malpractice suits who now have a higher potential recovery with fewer downside financial limitations.
  • Legal Community:  This impacts the entire legal community and medical malpractice legal field because many have viewed the system as being one-sided or outdated and in need of serious reform.  Plaintiff’s attorneys are likely to take up more medical malpractice cases which would previously have been financially losing or break-even prospects even if won.
  • Those in Need of Quality Medical Care:  The previous MICRA cap had been in existence for approximately 50 years and did not account for inflation, present financial circumstances, societal expectations, and the legal intent to provide justice to aggrieved parties by providing a fair and proper recovery due to medical negligence.  Medical negligence will be deterred by these changes and the overall delivery of quality medical care should improve as a result.  

If you think you may have a medical malpractice case in California, reach out to our Personal Injury team at KVK.

Blog by Tiffany Gruenberg – June 10, 2022

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