Recently a bill passed in Washington has put a cap on damages that can be claimed during medical malpractice cases for emotional loss known as pain and suffering damages to $250000 for non-economic damages. Payments for economic damages, or actual out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages, would have no limit.
California is one of the only states with such a low cap as the $250000 limit encompassing economic and non-economic damages. This law went into place in 1975 and had not been altered since even to account for inflation.
The bill is designed to save health care costs through two channels:
Health Affairs published a study in 2010 saying that medical malpractice claims only cost the healthcare system three percent of total costs. However, it is thought the new law could help save the system up to 50 billion dollars over the next ten years.
Allison K. Hoffman, a professor at the UCLA School of Law says that the law unfairly impacts those who were a victim of medical malpractice. She said it doesn’t do much to alter costs to the healthcare system but “to the extent it does, it does so by taking dollars out of pockets of people who have been injured.”
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