Home Health California lawmakers raise awards for negligence lawsuits WGN Radio 720

California lawmakers raise awards for negligence lawsuits WGN Radio 720


SACRAMENTA, Calif. (AP) – The California legislature on Thursday agreed to increase the amount of money people can win in medical malpractice courts, resolving one of the sharpest disputes in state policy, raising the limit on compensation for the first time in 47 years.

Since 1975, the largest amount of money Californians could win for pain and suffering in medical negligence courts has been $ 250,000. Starting January 1, this limit will increase to $ 350,000 for the victims and $ 500,000 for the relatives of the dead.

These amounts will gradually increase over the next decade until they reach $ 750,000 for victims and $ 1 million for families of deceased patients. After that, the restrictions will increase by 2% each year to keep up with inflation.

The state assembly on Thursday voted 60-0 to send the bill to Democratic Gov. Gavin News, who said he would sign it into law. It was a rare demonstration of unity in a contentious issue.

“The battles that seem to bind us for decades cannot be overcome as much as we allow them to be,” said Assemblywoman Eliza Gomez Reyes, a Democrat and author of the bill.

California does not limit how much money patients can win in negligence lawsuits for things that can be calculated, such as medical expenses and lost wages.

But limiting how much money patients can win for things that are harder to count, such as pain and suffering, has been one of the most pressing problems in California for decades.

The reduction has prevented a significant increase in doctors’ insurance premiums against medical negligence. But court lawyers and consumer advocates argue that the cap protects bad behavior by discouraging many patients from filing complex and costly claims of medical negligence.

Nick Rowley, a wealthy litigation lawyer who said his infant son died 14 years ago from medical negligence, spent millions of dollars of his own money to qualify the initiative for a state vote this fall that would increase the limit to about $ 1.2 million .

But Rowley has vowed to withdraw his proposal from the ballot after Newsom signs the bill, avoiding costly campaigns for both sides.

Rowley praised Dustin Corcoran, director general of the California Medical Association, for “working just as hard to figure it out,” and “put an end to the 47-year war.”

“I can proudly say that we are allies now,” Rowley said.

The bill includes other changes to the process of considering medical malpractice lawsuits. If doctors say or write something expressing sympathy or regret about the pain and suffering of patients, it cannot be used against doctors in courts or disciplinary hearings.

Dr. Robert E. Wales, president of the California Medical Association, said the new rules would allow for discussions between patients and their physicians to “promote greater openness, trust, and long-term friendliness between patients and physicians.”

Rowley said he hoped the California compromise could “set an example for others to follow.”

He said he plans to turn his attention to other states and plans to fund voting initiatives to raise the limits of irregularities in Colorado, Montana “and any other state.”

“I think in 2024 we will see more change,” Rowley said.


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