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Myths About Caps on ‘Non-Economic’ Damages in California’s Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2019 | Medical Malpractice

If there is one thing that hurts your chances of successfully recovering damages in a medical malpractice case, it’s definitely myths about medical malpractice restrictions imposed by California law.

Today, we invited our medical malpractice lawyer in California from Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation to spell out the most dangerous myths about legal restrictions for medical malpractice lawsuits and debunk these myths.

Myth #1: Any Injured Patient Can Successfully Recover Damages Through A Medical Malpractice Suit

One of the most common and most dangerous myths about legal medical malpractice restrictions in California is that an injured patient can successfully sue a negligent medical professional who committed malpractice because only “non-economic damages” are capped by California law.

Our California medical malpractice lawyer explains that non-economic damages are the compensations claimed against intangible harms such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of the enjoyment of life, loss of fertility, and others.

More often than not, only those patients whose loss of income or medical expenses total hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars are able to find a medical malpractice attorney in California or elsewhere in California. Thus, you are guaranteed to successfully recover damages in a medical malpractice case only if you can demonstrate evidence of severe “economic” damage caused by the negligent act or omission to act on the part of a healthcare provider.

Unfortunately, even if a medical malpractice lawsuit involves the death of a child or senior citizen, the surviving family members may be unable to seek legal representation because there is no basis for loss of income or measuring medical bills, both of which act as a magnet for lawyers.

In addition to that, attorney fees and many other expenses cannot be included in the “economic” damage award, which means these damages will be subtracted from the capped “non-economic” damages portion, making it very unlikely for a lawyer to take a case that does not involve large economic damages.

Myth #2: Caps On ‘Non-Economic’ Damages Are Fair To All Patients

Let’s move on to myth number two. Many patients in California wrongly believe that those caps on compensation recoverable in medical malpractice cases are fair to patients who are eligible to receive “unlimited” economic damages. Wrong.

Our California medical malpractice attorney explains that economic damages cannot always be predicted in advance. In addition to that, many juries in California are not informed about statuary restrictions on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, which creates the risk of incorrect allocation of economic damages.

Let’s review an example. Let’s imagine that a Sherman Oaks resident is hospitalized to have his cancerous kidney removed in surgery. But the surgeon mistakenly removes the patient’s healthy kidney instead of the cancerous one. The injured patient, who will have to live for the rest of his life on between 10 to 15 percent of kidney function, files a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent surgeon. After months of litigation, a jury awards the injured patient more than $4 million, but the judge reduces the verdict to $250,000 due to California’s cap on “non-economic damages” in medical malpractice cases and, in addition to that, awards only $10,000 in “economic damages.”

The most bizarre part is that the injured patient’s court fees, excluding attorney fees, skyrocketed to more than $450,000, while his medical bills totaled more than $600,000. “And cases like these are not rare,” says our medical malpractice lawyer in California.

Prior to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in California, it is essential that you consult with an experienced lawyer to make sure that you are aware of all the restrictions and caps on non-economic and economic damages in medical malpractice cases in California. Schedule a free consultation with our attorneys at Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation by calling at 818-783-5757.