California Medical Injury Attorneys

Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA)

The California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, or MICRA, has been in effect since 1975. As of 2013, MICRA has stood in the way of patients and families seeking accountability and justice for medical negligence for almost 40 years. One of the most detrimental stipulations of the Act is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in cases of medical malpractice, which has never changed, even after years of inflation have drastically decreased its economic effect. MICRA has not improved patient care and has done very little to help doctors and hospitals, which is why reform is necessary.

Limiting the compensation available to those suffering as the result of medical negligence is unjust and jeopardizes their recovery and well-being. At Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis, Inc., we believe reform is necessary to protect the safety and rights of patients who are harmed by healthcare professionals through no fault of their own.

Its Original Purpose

When MICRA took effect in 1975, its purpose was to resolve the ever increasing cost of medical malpractice insurance premiums, which would supposedly lead to doctors and hospitals being unable to afford staying in business, and thus threaten patient access to proper healthcare. This perceived “crisis” of rising insurance premiums was eventually discredited. Medical malpractice premiums, in fact, continued to rise even after MICRA. It was not until the passage of Proposition 103 in 1988 that medical malpractice insurance premiums were subjected to effective regulation.

Despite its lack of effectiveness, MICRA was never modified. It has continued to cap compensation for non-economic damages at $250,000, even for a lifetime of pain and suffering. There is no cap for economic damages, such as loss of income, but this does not benefit people who have little or no income, like children. The life of a child who dies as the result of preventable medical negligence has a maximum value of $250,000. Placing a maximum or any value on the life of a child or adult killed due to the action of another is unacceptable. Unfortunately, the family of a child or other adult who has died may not even be able to obtain that maximum amount.

Obstacles to Justice

Cases involving medical malpractice are long, difficult, and expensive. Costs for plaintiff’s attorneys can surpass $100,000. Because of the cap on potential judgments is so strict, many lawyers are unable to afford to take such cases, preventing victims from not only being unable to obtain compensation for their losses, but from exposing the misconduct of dangerous healthcare practices.

Push for Change

In 2013, a ballot measure to reform MICRA by lifting the cap on non-economic damages and introducing stricter regulation and monitoring of medication prescription practices was announced for November 2014. Consumer advocates and trial lawyers are in support of legislation that will modernize MICRA and facilitate justice for Californians who have been injured or who have lost loved ones due to the negligence of others instead of protecting the insurance companies that would have to pay for the misconduct of doctors.