When it comes to medical malpractice litigation, the state in which you practice can make all the difference in the damages your client can expect to recover. Medical malpractice damages caps remain a controversial issue with champions on both sides claiming their solution is best for both injured patients and medical professionals. There’s no denying that a state’s medical malpractice damages caps can set the tone for how attorneys approach medical malpractice suits. Therefore it’s imperative to stay as updated as possible on your state’s damage cap rulings.
We’ve created an infographic to serve as an at-a-glance guide to state damages caps across the country. While complete, the information in this infographic may be subject to change, as lawmakers continue to debate and revise the damages caps in their respective states. In addition, every year new caps are ratified, old caps overturned, and certain states adjust caps for inflation.
Here are just a few recent national updates to be aware of:
In January 2018, a state district judge in North Dakota ruled that limiting damages in medical malpractice cases is unconstitutional. This decision originated from a case involving a disabling stroke as the result of a failed surgery in which the judge denied a motion from the hospital to reduce the jury’s verdict in accordance with a law that places a $500,000 limit on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
In 2015, Missouri established caps on the amount of non-economic damages recoverable by a plaintiff in a medical malpractice action. The cap for non-catastrophic injuries was established at $400,000 and the cap for catastrophic injuries was set at $700,000. The ruling provides a 1.7% annual increase in these caps for inflation. In 2018, the cap for non-catastrophic injuries was $420,749 and $736,310 for catastrophic injuries.
Although previously Oregon capped non-economic damages in wrongful death cases at $500,000, in Vasquez v. Double Press Mfg., Inc., 2017, the Oregon Court of Appeals struck down the cap on non-economic damages, ruling that such caps are unconstitutional.
Wisconsin ruled its $750,000 cap on non-economic damages unconstitutional in 2017 after the case of Mayo v. Wisconsin Injured Patients & Families Compensation Fund. That court found the cap limits awards for the catastrophically injured, amounting to an equal protection violation. The court added that the cap doesn’t achieve any of the Legislature’s stated goals in adopting it.
Below is a breakdown of the medical malpractice caps for both economic and non-economic damages across all 50 states, as well as an explanation of umbrella cap in applicable states.