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Cap on medical negligence claims is challenged

Why should a '70s-era rule control how much can be paid in an injury lawsuit today?

That's the question being posed in a lawsuit that seeks to have the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act declared unconstitutional under California's state laws. The lawsuit arises out of the tragic death of a young girl at the hands of negligent doctors. Her parents wanted to hold the doctors and the hospital responsible for her death. The only means to do so in a case of negligence is through a civil suit, of course, but the family simply cannot afford it.

One of the biggest problems with pursuing justice in any case of medical neglect is the cost. Medical neglect cases require a lot of work and expert consultations, so it can cost many thousands of dollars just to gather evidence and build a case. Court fees, filing fees and attorney fees also have to be factored into every case.

Back in 1975, however, California decided to cap the damages that can be awarded in medical negligence claims at $250,000 -- and there it has remained ever since. The new lawsuit points out that $250,000 was a princely sum back in 1975. In 2020, however, that's the equivalent of only about $25,000-$55,000.

The cap, albeit unintentionally, creates a practical imbalance that doesn't allow for equal access to the law for everyone. If your case isn't relatively easy to prove and worth the maximum, you may not be able to move forward. If this suit is successful, it would likely make it easier for attorneys to afford to take more medical malpractice claims -- which is better for patients.

Victims of medical malpractice and their family members should always seek the advice of an experienced representative about their claims.

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