California landmark medical malpractice law comes at expense of severely injured
In 1975, a California law capped medical malpractice noneconomic damages at $250,000. While the California medical malpractice law has decreased jury awards by 30 percent, a study has shown most of these cuts have come at the expense of the most severely injured and impaired patients.
The Rand study of 257 jury awards in California medical malpractice cases from 1995 to 1999 showed that in 45 percent of the cases judges cut the pain and suffering damage awards by juries to conform to the $250,000 limit by $366,000. Juries are not told about the cap. For the patients suffering the most serious cases of California medical malpractice, including brain damage or paralysis, typical awards are reduced by over $1 million each. In California medical malpractice cases involving infants, damage awards were cut 71 percent of the time, which was often by $2.5 million or more.
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