Is MICRA’s Cap on Pain-and-Suffering Damages Unconstitutional?

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California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) places a cap of $250,000 on pain-and-suffering damages, also known as non-economic damages. However, the top court in California, the California Supreme Court, has recently agreed to hear Hughes vs. Pham, a case which challenges the constitutionality of this cap.
 
The plaintiffs in the case allege that Trent Hughes became a paraplegic as a result of neurosurgeon Christopher Pham’s delay in treating Hughes after an off-road accident. According to Modern Healthcare, they are arguing that MICRA’s cap on non-economic damages is unconstitutional, and further that the cap “arbitrarily and irrationally singles out the most severely injured victims of medical malpractice for unfavorable treatment.”
 
Proponents of Proposition 46, which was defeated last month by California voters, agree with this argument. Pam Pressley, the litigation director for California Watchdog, which backed Proposition 46, said in a statement, “Several states in recent years have determined that their own damages caps were unconstitutional and unjust—it’s time for California to join them. Families who have lost loved ones and victims of medical negligence deserve the justice and accountability that the damages cap denies.”
 
According to Justice.org, the following seven states have declared medical malpractice damage caps to be unconstitutional: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, Missouri, Oregon and Washington. Another seven states, including California, have current challenges before the court regarding the constitutionality of caps on medical malpractice damage awards.
 
While the lawyer for the defendant, Kenny Padroza, as well as opponents of Proposition 46, do not believe California’s top court will be addressing the issue of the constitutionality of the MICRA cap on non-economic damages, others disagree, hoping that the defeat of Proposition 46 has provided the court with reason to consider the constitutional challenge outlined in the case.
 
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a medical misdiagnosis and are seeking a qualified medical malpractice attorney, contact Los Angeles doctor-turned-lawyer Bradley I. Kramer for a free consultation today.

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