Proposition 46 may have been defeated on the November 4 ballot, but the issue of damage caps for medical malpractice cases in California continues to linger. Now, the California Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that challenges whether the caps placed on pain and suffering damages in the state are constitutional.
Since 1975, when the state enacted the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases have been capped at $250,000. In November, 67.1 percent of voters rejected a measure which would have, among other things, raised that cap significantly.
This latest lawsuit, Hughes v. Pham, alleges that Trent Hughes is now a paraplegic because of delayed treatment from neurosurgeon Christopher Pham after Hughes suffered injuries in an off-road vehicle accident. A California jury estimated the total damages in Hughes’ case to be worth approximately $2.75 million, but he can only receive $250,000 because of the MICRA rules. Hughes and his wife argue that this damage cap violates the types of equal protection that the constitution guarantees to citizens, and that it particularly singles out people who suffer catastrophic injuries and treats them unfairly.
This means that once again, the state Supreme Court will have to review the constitutionality of California’s damage cap laws, which brings the issue back to the forefront after a contentious election season.
This decision is certain to have wide-reaching implications for the state. Stay up to date with this case and learn more about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit by speaking with an experienced San Diego injury attorney at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire.