$250,000 Limit on Pain and Suffering in CALIFORNIA Medical Malpractice Actions

California Civil Code section 3333.2 provides:
"(a) In any action for injury against a health care provider based on professional negligence, the injured plaintiff shall be entitled to recover noneconomic losses to compensate for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement and other nonpecuniary damage.
(b) In no action shall the amount of damages for noneconomic losses exceed two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000).
(c) For the purposes of this section:
  (1) 'Healthcare provider' means any person licensed or certified pursuant to Division 2 (commencing with Section 500) of the Business and Professions Code, or licensed pursuant to the Osteopathic Initiative Act, or the Chiropractic Initiative Act, or licensed pursuant to Chapter 2.5 (commencing with Section 1440) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code; and any clinic, health dispensary, or health facility, licensed pursuant to Division 2 (commencing with Section 1200) of the Health and Safety Code. 'Health care provider' includes the legal representatives of a health care provider;
  (2) 'Professional negligence' means a negligent act or omission to act by a health care provider in the rendering of professional services, which act or omission is the proximate cause of a personal injury or wrongful death, provided that such services are within the scope of services for which the provider is licensed and which are not within any restriction imposed by the licensing agency or licensed hospital."

In 1975, the California Legislature enacted this $250,000 limitation on the recovery for pain and suffering in medical malpractice actions specifically to discourage lawsuits against hospitals, medical clinics, nurses, doctors and other medical care providers. Adjusted for inflation, the value of $250,000 in 1975 is the equivalent of more than $1,000,000 today. Yet today, victims of medical malpractice remain limited to a maximum of $250,000 in 1975 dollars.

Increasingly problematic is that in order to obtain the 1975 value of a $250,000 judgment today, victims of medical malpractice pay legal costs in today's inflated dollars. Careful and efficient investigation and preparation for trial are essential in pursuing medical malpractice cases.

Under certain circumstances, recovery of non-economic damages beyond one $250,000 limit may apply.

For questions or comments, you are invited to contact the HIDALGO law firm.

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$250,000 Limit  -  90-Day Letter
Attorneys Fees  -  Collateral Source Rule  -  Periodic Payments
California Statutes of Limitations