MEDICAL MALPRACTICE DAMAGE CAPS

Medical malpractice cases have been on a rise for decades. Typically, there are two types of damages that can be claimed in a medical malpractice case – economic and non-economic damages. Many states have imposed limits on non economic damages that can be recovered in a malpractice case. The argument presented by these states is that the insurance premiums go up when high damages are awarded which in turn discourages medical practice. This argument has been criticized and caps on damages have been termed unconstitutional by some states. Caps violate the constitutional right to a trial by jury and should be taken up on an individual case basis.

The below given chart gives in brief the laws in each state with regards to medical malpractice damage caps:

 

States

Damage Caps

Damages (Economic/Non-economic/Punitive)

Authority

Alabama Unconstitutional by State courts; Punitive damages is thrice compensatory damages or $ 500,000, whichever is greater (1.5 million for physical injury), except, if defendant is small business (net worth < $2 million) then cap is $ 50,000 or 10% of the business’ net worth. No caps in wrongful death or intentional infliction of physical injury Punitive Ala. Code § 6-11-21
Alaska $250,000 cap; can bump upto $400,000 in cases of wrongful death or “severe permanent physical impairment” that is over 70 percent debilitating Non-economic Alaska Stat. §09.55.549
Arizona Unconstitutional by State constitution   Arizona Constitution Article 2, § 31
Arkansas Unconstitutional by State constitution; Punitive damages shall not be more than the greater of $250,000, or compensatory damages not to exceed $1 million   Arkansas Codes §§16-55-205 to 16-55-209
California $250,000 Non-economic Civil Code §3333.2
Colorado $300,000 (non-economic)- $1,000,000 (total limit on all damages) Non-economic C.R.S. §13-64-302
Connecticut No cap on compensatory damages; punitive damages are limited to the actual cost of the litigation, including attorney’s fees Punitive Berry v. Loiseau, 223 Conn. 786 (1992)
Delaware No cap on compensatory damages; Punitive damages but no specified limit Punitive Del. Code Ann. tit. 18, § 6855
District of Columbia No applicable statute    
Florida $500,000- $1,000,000 against practitioners; $750,000- $1,500,000 against non-practitioners Non-economic Fla. Stat. §766.118
Georgia Unconstitutional by State courts; Punitive damages may not exceed $250,000 Punitive Ga. Code Ann. § 51-12-5. 1
Hawaii $375,000 Non-economic Hawaii Revised Statutes §663-8.7
Idaho $250,000, with an increase and decrease in accordance with Idaho Code §72-409(2) Non-economic Idaho Code §6-1603
Illinois Unconstitutional by State courts    
Indiana $250,000 for an individual health care provider; $750,000 for medical malpractice that occurred prior to July 1, 1999 (with a cap lower for pre-1989 cases); $1.25 million for health care treatment errors that occurred after June 30, 1999 Non-economic Indiana Code Chapter 34-18-14
Iowa   Punitive damage without limitation Iowa Code § 668A. 1
Kansas $250,000 Non-economic Kansas Statutes §60-19a02
Kentucky Unconstitutional by State constitution   Kentucky Constitution §54
Louisiana $500,000 (any amount over $100,000 to be paid out through the state Patient’s Compensation Fund)   Louisiana Revised Statutes §40:1299.42
Maine Not codified; $500,000   Cap is in accord with Maine Revised Statutes Title 18A §2-804
Maryland $755,000 for 2015 (increases by $15,000 each year) Non-economic Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code §3-2A-09(A)
Massachusetts $500,000 Non-economic Ch. 231 §60H
Michigan $280,000; can be increased to $500,000 (bumped up to $774,000 as of 2013) Non-economic Michigan Compiled Laws §600.1483
Minnesota   Punitive Minn. Stat. § 549. 20
Mississippi $500,000 Non-economic Mississippi Code §11-1-60
Missouri Unconstitutional by State Courts    
Montana $250,000 Non-economic Montana Code Annotated §25-9-411
Nebraska $1.75 million (health care providers qualifying under the state’s Hospital-Medical Liability Act won’t pay more than $500,000; and any amount above $500,000 is paid out from the state’s Excess Liability Fund) Both economic and non-economic Nebraska Revised Statutes §44-2825
Nevada $350,000 Non-economic Nevada Revised Statutes §41A.035
New Hampshire Unconstitutional by State Courts   Carson v. Maurer, 120 N.H. 925, 424 A.2d 825 (1980) and Brannigan v. Usitalso, 134 N.H. 50, 587 A.2d 1232 (1991)
New Jersey Punitive damages are limited to $350,000 or five times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater   New Jersey Statutes §2A:15-5.14
New Mexico $600,000 Non-economic New Mexico Statutes §41-5-6
New York No applicable statute    
North Carolina $500,000 Non-economic N.C. General Statutes §90-21.19
North Dakota $500,000 cap on non-economic damages; no statutory limit for economic damages but any award over $250,000 may be challenged and reviewed for reasonableness Both economic and non-economic N.D. Cent. Code §§32-42-02; 32-03.2-08
Ohio Non-economic damages not to exceed $250,000 or three times the economic damages ($350,000 per plaintiff or $500,000 for each case, which may bump up to $500,000 per plaintiff or $1 million per case if the malpractice caused certain permanent and/or catastrophic injuries); unconstitutional for wrongful death cases by State Constitution Both economic and non-economic Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §2323.43
Oklahoma $350,000 in all civil cases, unless the case involves wrongful death or the court finds “clear and convincing” evidence for gross negligence, reckless disregard, fraudulent intent, and/or with malice Non-economic Oklahoma Statutes §23-61.2
Oregon $500,000 for wrongful death cases only; Other non-economic caps are unconstitutional by State Courts Non-economic Or. Rev. Stat. § 30.020
Pennsylvania Unconstitutional by State Constitution. Exception for employees injured during the course of employment.   Pennsylvania Constitution Article 3, §18
Rhode Island No applicable statute    
South Carolina $350,000, but total not to exceed $1.05 million Non-economic S.C. Code Laws §15-32-220
South Dakota $500,000 Non-economic S.D. Cod. Laws § 21-3-11
Tennessee $750,000 per claim (captures related claims made by the injured patient’s family members)- $1 million (in cases of  “catastrophic” injury and certain instances of wrongful death) Non-economic Tennessee Civil Justice Act §29-39-101 et seq. (2011 Public Chapter 510)
Texas $250,000 per claimant (against a physician/health care provider/a single health care institution; $500,000 per-claimant (against multiple health care institutions) Non-economic Texas Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §74.301
Utah $450,000 for any medical malpractice case arising after May 15, 2010 Non-economic Utah Code §78B-3-410
Vermont No applicable statute    
Virginia $2.10 million for cases arising from July 1, 2013- June 30, 2014; $2.15 million for cases arising from July 1, 2014- June 30, 2015; $2.20 million for cases arising from July 1, 2015- June 30, 2016; $2.25 million for cases arising from July 1, 2016- June 30, 2017 (will stop increasing in 2031, when the limit is $3 million Both economic and non-economic Virginia Code §8.01-581.15
Washington Unconstitutional by State Courts   Sofie v. Fireboard Corp., 112 Wash. 2d 636, 771 P.2d 711 (1989)
West Virginia $250,000; bumps up to $500,000 if the malpractice resulted in certain catastrophic damages including wrongful death, permanent and serious disfigurement, or an injury that permanently prevents the plaintiff from being able to care for him/herself and perform life-sustaining activities Non-economic West Virginia Code §55-7B-8
Wisconsin $750,000 Non-economic Wisconsin Stat. §893.55
Wyoming Unconstitutional by State Constitution   Wyoming Constitution Article 10, § 4

 



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