Some states limit the amount of compensation a medical malpractice victim can recover, but that is the case in New York. Therefore, it is up to a jury to decide how much compensation a victim of medical malpractice will receive.
What are Damage Caps?
Damage caps in medical malpractice cases typically restrict the amount of non-economic damages an injured or ill plaintiff (victim) can recover from the defendant (at-fault party). For example, compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disability, etc. The point of damage caps is to discourage false claims and prevent plaintiffs from receiving large payouts that could potentially make defendants go bankrupt.
What Limits Do Different States Have on Medical Malpractice Damages?
The damage caps on medical malpractice cases vary from state to state, but here are a few examples:
California medical malpractice laws do not limit the amount of economic damages (e.g., medical bills or lost income) a victim can recover. However, the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) caps non-economic awards (e.g., pain and suffering) at $250,000. This law was passed in 1975, but lawmakers have yet to adjust this limit.
Florida medical malpractice damages are capped at $500,000 in most cases but it depends on the level of harm and whether the medical provider who caused harm was a “medical practitioner” or not. In cases involving a nonpractitioner defendant, Florida caps damages at $750,000 or $1.5 million. However, in 2017 the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the caps are unconstitutional. There is no limit on the amount of economic damages that can be awarded.
Texas medical malpractice statutes do not limit the amount of economic damages that can be awarded but do cap non-economic damages as follows:
- $250,000 per claimant from a doctor or other health care provider;
- $250,000 per claimant from a health care institution; and
- A total of $500,000 from all healthcare institutions, regardless of the number of facilities that were negligent.
How New York’s Shared Fault Rule Can Reduce Compensation
Although there are no caps on the amount of damages that can be awarded in New York medical malpractice claims, the state’s “pure” comparative fault law (N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 1411) can still limit your compensation. Under this rule, each party to a medical malpractice lawsuit is assigned a percentage of the blame, which will reduce the amount of damages awarded in proportion to your degree of fault. For example, in a medical malpractice trial, the jury will:
- Determine each party’s percentage of fault.
- Medical Provider is found to be 80% at fault.
- Patient is found to be 20% at fault.
- Calculate the total amount of damages.
- The patient is awarded $100,000 for their losses caused by the incident of medical malpractice.
- Subtract the percentage of fault from the total amount of damages awarded.
- The Patient’s award of $100,000 is reduced by 20% so they will receive $80,000 total.
While this type of shared fault system can give patients a chance to recover compensation even if they contributed to their injury or illness, it also gives defendants a chance to wrongly place blame on patients to reduce their liability. If you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, contact our New Rochelle medical malpractice lawyers today.