We are no strangers to the dangers of tort reform at Plaxen & Adler, P.A. As Legislative Chairman of the Maryland Association for Justice and Chairman of the Maryland Association for Justice Political Action Committee, Bruce Plaxen has testified at Legislative Hearings dozens and dozens of times against tort reform. We’ve written about the damage that malpractice caps can cause by making doctors more careless. In California, however, trial attorneys are fighting back. A new ballot measure, Proposition 46, aims to quadruple the state’s cap on non-economic damages, from $250,000 to $1.1 million, with annual increases. The ballot measure has its required 500,000 signatures, and therefore will make it onto the November ballot, according to Legal Newsline.

Caps on Damages are Unfair

The Act they’re fighting against in California is the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which was established in 1975. At the time, $250,000 was not enough to compensate for catastrophic injuries and is certainly not enough 40 years later.

Legal Newsline quotes the head of Consumer Attorneys of California, Eric Bailey, about why this ballot is so important:

“As the many medical negligence victims backing Proposition 46 will attest, this ballot measure is about making sure the tragedy that struck them or a loved one won’t happen to someone else. One way to achieve that is through the courts, which provide a deterrence effect and consumer protections. One provision of Proposition 46 raises California’s medical negligence cap to account for more than 38 years of inflation, restoring an element of fairness and accountability that can help nudge the medical profession to improve its practices and end this cycle of needless deaths.”

The ballot measure faces opposition from groups like California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, who feel as though only trial lawyers want the measure to pass. The group cites the rising insurance premiums for doctors in the 1970s as one of the reasons why MICRA was necessary.

What does the end of MICRA have to do with Maryland?

Maryland’s medical malpractice caps are currently higher than $250,000, but the end of the Act could have wide-reaching effects – even in our state. This is because many states (like Texas, for example) have followed California’s lead in placing caps of $250,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. If Prop 46 passes into law, other consumer advocate groups around the country could petition for increases in their caps. While Maryland seems unlikely to follow suit, we could see more and more of these measures on ballots throughout the country.

For more information on medical malpractice reform, we invite you to visit our website at www.plaxenadler.com or view our last post. There, you can find more information about the area of medical malpractice, and learn about the services we offer injury victims throughout Maryland.