Under California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), damages related to pain and suffering (also known as non-economic damages) as a result of medical malpractice cannot exceed $250,000.
Back in November, Proposition 46 was defeated, with 67% of California voters rejecting the ballot measure, which aimed to increase the cap on pain-and-suffering damage awards. If it had passed, Proposition 46 would have seen an increase in the cap on such damages to $1.1 million.
The California Supreme Court, however, recently agreed to hear a case, Hughes v. Pham, which challenges the constitutionality of this cap on pain-and-suffering damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits, and also how such damages should be paid.
The plaintiff in Hughes v. Pham, Trent Hughes, alleges that the delay of the defendant, neurosurgeon Christopher Pham, in treating Hughes after an off-road accident resulted in Hughes becoming a paraplegic. At trial, a jury awarded Hughes $2.75 million in non-economic damages, but MICRA provisions resulted in a reduction of this award to the capped amount of $250,000.
A later judgment of the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling against the Hughes, except for the issue of the structure of the judgment.
The California Supreme Court has ordered briefing in the case deferred pending its judgment in Rashidi v. Moser, which addresses the issue of whether non-economic damages awarded in a medical malpractice case can be offset by amounts received in other settlement.
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.