MICRA: CHANGES ON THE HORIZON?
Since 1975, Californians have dealt with the limitations on non-economic damages in health care provider litigation, as provided for in California’s “MICRA” (Medical Injury Cooperation Reform Act of 1975) legislation. The $250,000.00 “cap” includes all damages for pain, suffering, emotional distress, and similar non-economic damages. Economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and other types of out of pocket damages remain unlimited, but subject to proof.
Consumer attorneys in California have fought for change to the MICRA legislation for years with no success, despite decades of inflation. On March 24, 2014, the trial lawyers and other consumer groups submitted signatures to qualify a MICRA initiative for the November ballot. Although incorporated into a drug testing initiative for physicians (“the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act”), one of the primary purposes of the initiative is to increase the “MICRA” damage cap by quadrupling the current $250,000.00 cap, and projecting future increases in non-economic damages.
The initiative also requires hospitals to conduct random drug and alcohol testing of physicians and requires physicians to check this state’s “CURES” database (Controlled-Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System) before writing a prescription for controlled substances for patients. The intent behind the Act is to protect the safety of patients.
California’s MICRA limits are outdated and fail to adequately compensate patients injured at the hands of negligent health care providers who merely stand behind the current Act to avoid complete accountability for their mistakes. The old MICRA legislation protects bad doctors and wealthy insurance companies, and not the patient/consumer as it was originally intended.
We will keep a close eye on the “Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act” to see where the issue of recovery of damages in medical litigation proceeds. Check back here for future updates regarding the proposed MICRA damage limitations.
If you, a friend, family member, or loved one have been the victim of health care neglect, contact the Law Offices of Heiting & Irwin for an initial free consultation as to your rights. Our attorneys have outstanding qualifications, experience, and success in representing injured parties in not only health care litigation, but in all types of personal injury claims.