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Medical malpractice caps are the statutory limits placed on the amount of money a victim of medical malpractice can recover through a legal case. Medical malpractice caps also limit the fees that an attorney can charge for representing the victim of medical malpractice. These medical malpractice caps often apply irrespective of whether the recovery was determined by arbitration, settlement, or judgment. Medical malpractice caps have been the subject of national controversy in recent years. Some people argue that medical malpractice caps prevent victims from receiving fair compensation for their devastating losses. Others believe that medical malpractice caps provide a necessary check on the legal (tort) system.
Types of Damages Awarded
Current medical malpractice caps on victim recovery can vary by the type of damages sought in the case and the state's unique medical malpractice laws. There are two types of damages that a plaintiff can seek through a medical malpractice case.
• Economic damages are the quantifiable monetary losses suffered by the medical malpractice victim, including out-of-pocket medical expenses, past and future loss of wages, and things of this nature.
• Non-economic damages are those qualitative losses that a victim of medical malpractice can suffer like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, inconvenience, disability, disfigurement, and the like. Medical malpractice caps typically involve the maximum amount of recovery a victim can receive for non-economic damages.
The medical malpractice caps placed on a particular case will depend on state medical malpractice laws. Some states do not have medical malpractice caps for the damages sought by a medical malpractice victim. Many state laws make certain concessions about the medical malpractice caps put on victim recovery. Generally speaking laws regarding medical malpractice caps may limit non-economic damages to some amount between $150,000 and one million dollars (depending on the state). Some states put medical malpractice caps on punitive damages. Still others exclude damages like disfigurement and disability from medical malpractice cap restrictions.
A state's medical malpractice caps for attorney fees are governed irrespective of medical malpractice caps placed on victim damages. Many states do not place any medical malpractice caps on attorney fees. Some states set medical malpractice caps at a certain percentage, no more of which can be taken from a plaintiff's settlement award. Other states use a sliding scale to determine medical malpractice caps, where the amount of attorney fees is determined by the amount of the recovery. Still other states have a more involved process of placing medical malpractice caps on attorney fees, such as approval by an arbitration counsel or an amount which is considered "reasonable" by state.
The laws regarding medical malpractice caps are in a state of flux. Many experts claim that our nation is experiencing a medical malpractice crisis, and they expect the laws regarding medical malpractice caps to change in the coming years.
Contact an Attorney Near You
If you would like to learn more about the medical malpractice caps that apply to cases in your states, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced medical malpractice attorney in your area.
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