Policy Summary

  • The ballot initiative would increase
    California's cap on noneconomic
    damages in medical malpractice
    lawsuits based on changes in
    inflation since 1975, which
    is when the cap on noneconomic
    damages was enacted. In
    1975, the cap was set at
    $250,000. The ballot initiative
    would require an annual adjustment
    of the cap based on inflation.


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Why We Support This Initiative

The coronavirus pandemic has affected many aspects of healthcare, including medical malpractice. States are considering ways to extend liability protections for physicians and other health care professionals. This initiative would increase California's cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits based on changes in inflation since 1975, which would benefit those negatively impacted by COVID-19. Proving that a doctor’s negligent treatment was the cause of a health complication is a difficult undertaking. The passage of this would allow judges and juries to award damages above the cap for catastrophic injuries, defined as death, permanent physical impairment, permanent disfigurement, permanent disability, or permanent loss of consortium, all of which are real possibilities for those impacted by COVD-19. The Proposition would more than quadruple the cap on “pain and suffering” that could be awarded in a medical malpractice suit. There’s no limit to how much pain and suffering a person can endure, so there should not be a limit on damages awarded when the pain and suffering is not their fault. The pandemic is not an intervening factor that shields healthcare providers from all liability.

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