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Nontraditional Approaches to Liability Reform

Many jurisdictions placed non-economic damages caps that limit the amount that victims of medical malpractice[40] can recover from negligent physicians, purportedly in an effort to decrease hospital and physician costs.

In California, for example, recovery for non-economic damages are limited to $250,000. According to the Supreme Court of California, “noneconomic damages compensate the plaintiff for ‘pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairmentdisfigurement and other nonpecuniary damage [as per Cal.Civ.Code section 3333.2, subdivision (a)].’ Section 1431.2, subdivision (b)(2) similarly defines noneconomic damages as ‘subjective, non-monetary losses including, but not limited to, pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental suffering, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, injury to reputation and humiliation.’”[41] Tort reform supporters argue that states have enacted such laws in order to keep health care costs low, in addition to helping curb medical malpractice litigation. However, according to the Supreme Court of California, the state’s non-economic damages caps are “not a legislative attempt to estimate the true damages suffered by plaintiffs, but rather an attempt to control and reduce medical malpractice insurance costs by placing a predictable, uniform limit on the defendant’s liability for noneconomic damages.”[42]

Texas law creates the most difficult “hurdles” in the United States for a plaintiff to succeed in recovering damages for any medical malpractice, even for such objectivecases such as an emergency room exposure to the Ebola virus disease