Caps on Medical Malpractice Damages in the United States


Caps on medical malpractice damages in the United States is a big problem for victims of serious, often fatal, medical errors.  Medical malpractice lawsuits allow victims to hold their doctor or other health care provider responsible when their negligent treatment causes them harm.  However, throughout the United States, many states have placed damage caps on the recovery patients can receive.  Many of the laws that have been passed put a cap on some non-economic damages patients may suffer, such as pain and suffering and emotional damage.  Some states have placed caps on all damages, including long-term disability costs.

There are several different categories of damages available in the typical malpractice lawsuit if the victim is successful in establishing the doctor’s liability for the harm caused.  These types of damages include medical expenses (post and future), reimbursement for lost income and future earnings, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.  The majority of states have placed caps on damages on the amount of money a patient can receive in their medical malpractice case.

New York is one of only 15 states that do not have a medical malpractice damage cap.  Therefore victims do not have any restrictions on how much they can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The restrictiveness of caps cases vary from state to state.  Some of the most restrictive caps include:

  • California – there is a $250,000 damage cap on non-economic damages, however this is not a cap on the money a patient can receive for the medical care required resulting from the medical malpractice.
  • Idaho – there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages.  This cap is variable and can rise or fall with the living wage.
  • Kansas – there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages.
  • Montana – there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages.
  • Ohio – there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages or three times the damages with a maximum cap of $350,000.

What do you think of caps in medical malpractice cases?

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