Health Policy

Capping Non-economic Awards In Medical Malpractice Trials: by RAND Corporation, Laura Zakaras, Daniela Golinelli

By RAND Corporation, Laura Zakaras, Daniela Golinelli

A version for limits on trial awards and legal professionals' charges in clinical malpractice circumstances is the scientific damage repayment Reform Act (MICRA), a legislation enacted in California in 1975 within the desire of controlling hovering scientific malpractice assurance charges and making sure the continued availability of malpractice coverage. MICRA caps awards for non-economic losses at $250,000 and boundaries plaintiffs' lawyer charges. The authors learn the results those limits have on either plaintiffs' awards and defendants' liabilities.

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Extra info for Capping Non-economic Awards In Medical Malpractice Trials: California Jury Verdicts Under Micra (Rand Corporation Monograph)

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16 Capping Non-Economic Awards in Medical Malpractice Trials died and those in which the victim survived because the types of damages being claimed are very different for death claims. 12 Awards for these latter types of essentially non-economic losses are capped by MICRA in the same way any noneconomic damage award to the decedent would have been capped had he or she survived. In practice, survival actions and wrongful death actions related to the same decedent are often consolidated or joined into the same case for purposes of trial.

16 The legislature reacted to the situation by passing MICRA. The ultimate legislative goal of MICRA, repeatedly reiterated by the California Supreme Court, was to maximize the availability of health care services by holding down premium levels and thereby reducing the cost of malpractice insurance. 17 As the Court stated in a 1984 decision: As we have frequently recounted, the Legislature enacted MICRA in response to a medical malpractice insurance “crisis,” which it perceived threatened the quality of the state’s health care.

As discussed in Appendix B, punitive damage awards are very rare events in California medical malpractice trials. 1 Average Size of Original Verdicts by Type of Claim, All Cases with Plaintiff Wins Type of Claim Median (1999$) Measure Mean (1999$) All cases (n=257) Economic damage awards Non-economic damage awards Total damage awards $61,000 $260,000 $382,000 $950,000 $687,000 $1,637,000 Injuries only (n=195) Economic damage awards Non-economic damage awards Total damage awards $58,000 $250,000 $358,000 $1,145,000 $652,000 $1,796,000 Deaths only (n=62) Economic damage awards Non-economic damage awards Total damage awards $80,000 $330,000 $573,000 $336,000 $798,000 $1,135,000 NOTE: Dollar amounts are rounded to the nearest thousand.

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