What is MICRA?
A law passed in 1975 will have a big impact on personal injury law this year.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury because of medical negligence, you may have heard of a statute law known as the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, also known as MICRA. California’s legislators enacted MICRA in 1975, and it was signed into law by then-Governor Jerry Brown. But what is this law, and how does it affect you and your case?
Simply put, MICRA limits the amount of compensation a victim or a victim’s loved one can recover for non-economic damages. Non-economic damages do not have a specific dollar value and, as a result, can be difficult to determine. More common examples of non-economic damages include emotional anguish, physical pain, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of parental guidance. In the personal injury world, non-economic damages are commonly referred to as pain and suffering.
Under MICRA, the amount of non-economic damages is limited and caps the awards in medical malpractice lawsuits at $250,000. It’s important to note that under MICRA, the amount of economic damages awarded is not limited. Economic damages like medical bills, hospital costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses are not capped by MICRA.
As you can imagine, $250,000 in non-economic damages may not be sufficient compensation in cases involving severe injury or wrongful death. For example: a husband whose wife passed away while having a tubal ligation the morning after giving birth to the couple’s newborn daughter filed a lawsuit on behalf of himself and his three children, citing surgeon negligence. In the lawsuit, the value of non-economic damages is estimated at more than $1 million dollars. However, no matter how much jurors may award the plaintiffs, the judge will have to cap the non-economic damages amount at $250,000.
MICRA will also limit attorney fees. An attorney representing a victim of medical negligence may not take more than 40% of the first $50,000 awarded. As the compensation amount goes up, the percentage of how much an attorney may take goes down. So, if a victim is awarded $600,000 or more, the attorney may only take 15% of the settlement.
Although MICRA is a difficult statute to navigate, a qualified personal injury attorney at Adamson Ahdoot LLP, can maximize injury damages. For more information about the types of damages you may be able to collect in a medical negligence lawsuit and the types of injuries that can arise from medical negligence, please visit our brain and catastrophic injury practice area pages. You can also learn more about MICRA by reading an informative Cal Matters article written by Dan Walters.