Medical Malpractice:

Caps on Medical Malpractice Damages

Some U.S. states have enacted caps on the maximum amount of non-economic damages that can awarded by juries in medical malpractice cases. Non-economic damages are awarded for intangible harms, including severe pain, physical and emotional distress, disfigurement, and loss of the enjoyment of life that an injury has caused. Each state has the right to set caps and impose limits on medical malpractice non-economic damages as they see fit. Details of the case, such as who is being sued and whether the case resulted in an injury or wrongful death, may also affect the cap amount. In some cases, the court may have the right to adjust or override the cap based on the severity or circumstances of the case.

Supporters of damage caps believe that they will reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits and lower medical malpractice insurance costs. Opponents believe that caps prevent seriously injured medical malpractice victims from receiving full and fair compensation for their injuries. In addition, children, the elderly, and stay-at-home moms can be adversely affected by caps. These parties often cannot establish wage losses, so they may be limited to recovering non-economic damages. If these damages are capped, they may not receive fair compensation for their injuries.