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Patients Celebrate Legislative Deal to Update Malpractice Cap

In 1975, the California legislature limited the legal rights of patients and their families who are harmed or killed by medical negligence. It set a $250,000 cap on compensation in medical malpractice cases that did not increase for 47 years. The cap was worth less than $50,000 by 2021 and denied injured patients and their families justice. 

Californians organized to update the cap and gathered enough signatures to place the Fairness for Injured Patients Act on the November 2022 California ballot.

In spring 2022, a legislative compromise was reached to update the cap and forestall the need for the initiative to go to the ballot. That deal was signed into law by Governor Newsom in May 2022. The new law will restore injured families’ access to justice.

The new law will:

  • Start in 2023 by increasing the cap to $500,000 for wrongful death cases, and $350,000 for injury cases.
  • Increase the cap every year for ten years, until it reaches $1 million for wrongful death cases, and $750,000 for injury cases, in 2033.
  • Allow for up to three separate caps, in cases when multiple providers and institutions are responsible. That means the maximum cap could be $3 million for wrongful death cases, and $2.25 million for injury cases.
  • Three different caps apply to a provider, an institution, and a provider or institution unaffiliated to the first two and based on a separate act of negligence.
  • Increase the cap for cost of living by 2% every year starting in 2034.
  • Set attorney fee caps from 25 to 33% based on whether a case is settled or goes to court, and allow attorneys to petition court for appropriate fees.
  • Allow doctors to apologize to patients for harm and even acknowledge fault without their statement being held against them in court.
  • Increase minimum amount of judgment required for either side to request periodic payments to $250,000.

Read a press release about the deal here: https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/governor-newsom-signs-historic-legislation-restore-patient-access-justice-update-47-year

Read more about the withdrawn ballot measure here:


Paid for by Consumer Watchdog Campaign for the Fairness for Injured Patients Act
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