Recently, state legislatures unanimously agreed to pass AB 35, updating the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). This is a major victory for Californians who suffer catastrophic injuries from medical malpractice, healthcare providers, and medical malpractice insurers.
Beginning in January 2023, the following changes to MICRA will take effect:
- California will raise the limit on non-economic damages (previously $250,000) for medical malpractice claims.
- If the case involves wrongful death, the non-economic damage cap is $500,000. The cap will increase by $50,000 annually for the next ten years until it reaches $1 million.
- If the medical malpractice claim doesn’t involve death, the cap will increase to $350,000, eventually reaching $750,000 in the next decade.
The changes to MICRA aim to lower the cost of medical malpractice insurance, enhance the rights of the injured, and address critical limitations of the California medical liability system.
Continue reading to learn more about changes to MICRA and how they will affect wrongful death cases.
Why Was MICRA Modernized?
Compared to most other states, California's medical malpractice laws are considered top tier. However, there are still limitations and blindspots that have finally been addressed. Specifically, AB 35 focuses on long-term medical liability insurance reforms and protecting patients and physicians. In theory, it should substantially decrease healthcare costs across the board.
How Will MICRA Modernization Effect Wrongful Death Claims?
Current medical malpractice laws for wrongful death in California stipulate that non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering, emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment, etc.) are capped at $250,000.
However, the new law will immediately increase this cap to $500,000 (starting January 1, 2023) and expand it to $1 million within ten years. AB 35 also restructures how and when a medical malpractice lawyer can recover contingency fees.
One of the most significant parts of the bill drastically changes what type of evidence is admissible in all medical malpractice hearings. Currently, any statements, writing, or gestures suggesting a healthcare provider’s regret, sense of fault, etc., related to the patient’s pain and suffering or death are inadmissible.
AB 35 takes it a step further by ensuring that all such forms of communication are confidential and impervious to subpoena, disclosure, discovery, etc. Further, they can’t be used as evidence in any type of hearing, including but not limited to civil cases, disciplinary board hearings, administrative hearings, regulatory hearings, and more.
Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Understanding the nuances of the recent updates to MICRA can be challenging without the help of a wrongful death lawyer. If your loved one lost their life due to the negligence of a healthcare professional, we can help you navigate the complexities of the new medical malpractice laws in California.
An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you recover maximum damages, including but not limited to:
- Medical costs
- Funeral costs
- Loss of financial contributions
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Don’t wait until the wrongful death statute of limitations expires before exploring your options for justice and closure. Contact Steinberg Injury Lawyers to speak with a proven wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles today.