Initiative Adjusting Medical Damages Cap Certified By State Of California
An initiative which seeks to adjust the $250,000 compensation cap on quality of life and wrongful death survivor damages in California has been certified by the state’s Secretary of State.
The Fairness for Injured Patients Act would adjust the $250,000 cap for inflation. The cap was set by the California Legislature and Governor Brown in 1975. The cap is worth 80% less today: it is equivalent to what $50,768 was worth in 1975.
The initiative, if passed, would let jurors and judges consider compensation over $250,000 to be appropriate in some cases of death or catastrophic injury. The initiative would require that juries be made aware of the cap’s existence.
The survivors of medical negligence behind the ballot measure raised over $4 million and collected over 900,000 signatures.
“COVID-19 has put the many racial disparities in our society front and center,” said a man whose wife died during childbirth due to alleged negligence. “This ballot initiative is in large part about fixing a system that does not provide primarily black and brown families with a fair day in court when they face gross medical negligence,” the man explained.
A Brookings Institution study found that black women with advanced degrees are more likely to lose a baby during childbirth than white women with a sub eighth grade education.
“It’s time for voters to get a chance to change this unjust 45-year-old law and give injured patients and their families a chance to hold the medical insurance complex accountable for its negligence and malfeasance,” said a man whose son was rendered brain-damaged and blind by medical negligence. A jury awarded $7 million in that case but a judge was forced to reduce the award to $250,000 because of California’s compensation cap.
“After statutory costs and attorneys’ fees I have seen entire families whose son, daughter or mother was killed by egregious negligence end up with the equivalent of $35,000 as full civil justice for the negligent killing of their loved one because of the cap never being adjusted for inflation. California’s 1975 law discriminately under-compensates victims and families who are black, Hispanic, and Asian all to the benefit of the rich and powerful,” said a lawyer who lost a son to medical malpractice.
A California man paralyzed by alleged medical malpractice asked a California court in March to declare the compensation cap unconstitutional.