Prop. 46 Targets Caps On Punitive Damages
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- Prop. 46 Targets Caps On Punitive Damages
This November 4th, California voters will have the chance to vote on Proposition 46, known as the Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Cap and Drug Testing of Doctors Initiative.
In 1975, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). MICRA capped non-economic damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000. The measure passed because many legislators and physicians groups felt that massive lawsuit verdicts against doctors accused of malpractice dramatically increased malpractice insurance premiums, and ultimately affected the cost that patients had to pay for care.
If Prop. 46 is passed, Californias cap on non-economic damages (commonly known as punitive damages) will be raised from $250,000 to over a million dollars for medical negligence lawsuits. The increase in the limit on damages for pain and suffering reflects the amount of inflation from 1975 to today’s dollars.
In addition to increasing the limit on punitive damages, Prop. 46 will also require that physicians submit to random drug and alcohol testing. This part of the measure ensures that doctors with substance abuse issues are not actively treating patients while impaired.
The measure would also utilize a state-wide database which logs the number and amount of prescriptions patients receive of certain drugs. Under the new system, doctors would check the state-wide database before prescribing narcotic painkillers to a patient. This process would, ideally, reduce the number of patients who abuse prescription painkillers by going to multiple doctors.
Supporters of this measure believe that raising the cap on punitive damages and requiring random testing would make doctors more responsible for malpractice mistakes without significantly increasing the costs of care for patients. Opponents believe the opposite, and argue that malpractice premiums would increase and that a statewide database could jeopardize the security of patient medical records.
No matter what your opinion is on Prop. 46, all Californians will have the opportunity to make their voices heard on November 4th. Learn more about the issue before you vote by visiting California’s Official Voter Information Guide.
If you or your loved one has been injured by medical malpractice in California, Arizona, New Mexico or Utah, the experienced injury attorneys based in the Phoenix, AZ office at Phillips Law Group are here to help. Call 1-800-706-3000 to set up your free initial consultation today!
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