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Increased Medical malpractice cap defeated by California voters

A new measure in California would have increased the damages cap for pain and suffering due to doctor negligence from $250,000 to $1.1 million. Voters turned down the provision, however.

Proposition 46, proposed in California, aimed at lifting the decades-old cap on the amount of damages a judge could assign for medical malpractice. The most expensive campaign in California this year, the measure included provisions for random drug and alcohol testing on physicians. Additionally, it aimed at reducing prescription abuses by requiring doctors to check a statewide database before prescribing certain medications.

Opposition to the measure feared a stark rise in medical expenses as doctors would need to compensate for their increased coverage costs. Adversaries quoted a California doctor's average insurance premiums at around $26,500, whereas states that operate without medical malpractice caps, such as Connecticut and New York, had premiums of over $99,000 and $137,400 respectively. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office also noted an anticipated increase in government health care costs if the Proposition passed "from tens of millions of dollars to several hundred million dollars annually." San Diego County voted against the Proposition, with 67 percent opposing it compared to 33 percent supporting it.

When a physician commits medical negligence, victim patients are able to recover financially for the emotional and physical toll the breach of trust creates. Some of the damages an individual may recover include medical costs, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, lost wages, disfigurement, and even the cost of hiring someone for household work. The actual damage amount an individual can recover is based on a number of factors that are generally weighed by a judge, including the cost of treatment, lost work-time or amount of mental anguish. Damage caps restrict the amount of compensation a victim is able to receive after doctor negligence.

Damages in medical malpractice lawsuits are meant to help victims recover compensation for the financial and emotional distress they endured. While damage caps may limit the extent of recovery, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help a victim receive the full amount available to them depending on the facts and circumstances of the person's case.

Source: nbcsandiego.com, "Attempt to raise medical malpractice cap defeated in California," Nov. 5, 2014

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