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Are there damage caps on malpractice claims?

If you have suffered a medical mishap in California, your first instinct may be to go to court and get money to pay for your suffering and damages. There are often news stories about settlements in malpractice suits. Many times, you may hear of people getting large amounts of money, millions of dollars, for example, in settlements. However, what you may not know is that some settlement damages have a cap.

According to California Legislative Information, the state sets a cap of $250,000 for nonmonetary losses. These are things you cannot quantify in a specific dollar amount. For example, if you were off work for a year due to the injury and lost $40,000 in wages, this is not a nonmonetary loss and does not count against the cap. You can easily calculate the number of hours you missed based on your average earnings.

On the other hand, if you were suing for pain and suffering, this is a monetary loss because there is no way to calculate the value of your pain and suffering. Other examples of nonmonetary claims include inconvenience, disfigurement and physical impairment. Generally speaking, lasting effects of the injury are going to fall under nonmonetary losses.

The state sets a cap to prevent outrageous awards in such cases. This helps to avoid excessive increases in healthcare costs. It also enables medical professionals to maintain insurance and not leave the field, which some may do after a huge loss in a malpractice case simply because they can no longer afford to maintain insurance to protect against future claims. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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