Like all other U.S. states, California recognizes a cause of action for medical malpractice if a health care provider does not deliver treatment following generally accepted medical standards. However, when it comes to certain types of damages, California departs from what other jurisdictions do in a significant way. There is a law, the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which imposes substantial restrictions on what you can recover when you suffer harm due to physician negligence. Despite numerous legal challenges by injured victims and their lawyers, MICRA remains in full force and effect.
The existence of this law certainly concerns patients, but it is important to realize that many of your rights and legal options remain intact despite MICRA. You maximize the potential of your medical malpractice claim by working with Sherman Oaks personal injury attorneys, but here are four facts victims need to know.
Cap on Certain Types of Damages
The main provision of MICRA is that it imposes a statutory cap of $250,000 for non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims. More specifically:
- Amounts for pain and suffering, emotional distress, scarring and disfigurement, and other non-economic losses are limited to $250,000.
- The statutory cap does NOT limit your economic damages. You can still recover 100% of your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and related out-of-pocket losses.
- The statutory cap only applies to medical malpractice cases in California. There are no limitations on most other personal injury claims.
MICRA Impacts Attorneys’ Fees
The statute also provides restrictions on what lawyers can receive as legal fees in a medical malpractice case. Attorneys typically work on a contingency fee basis, charging a percentage of what you ultimately receive from your claim. Your lawyer’s fees are limited to
- Up to 40% of the award for the first $50,000 you recover
- One-third of the next $50,000
- A maximum of 25% of the next $500,000
- Up to 15% for any amounts over $600,000
Impact on the Statute of Limitations
MICRA can also modify your deadlines for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, recognizing that these injuries are not always immediately evident. You have up to three years after the date of the malpractice incident or one year after you knew or should have known of the harm.
Legislative Purpose of MICRA
When you review the limitations on your recovery and attorneys’ fees, you may wonder why California lawmakers would enact such a law. Back in 1975, the objective of MICRA was to protect health care providers from skyrocketing medical malpractice liability insurance premiums. Seemingly, the statute serves the needs of medical professionals and the insurance industry at the cost of your rights.
Contact Our Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers Today
MICRA may have unfortunate implications for victims of medical malpractice, but the 1975 law is here to stay after numerous legal challenges and controversy. Our El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers are skilled in strategies for optimizing your recovery in a medical malpractice case, so please contact us to speak to a member of our team. To hire a lawyer, or learn more about MICRA, contact us by calling 213-985-1120 or go online today.