Is there a limit on medical malpractice damages?October 25th, 2015
Yes. Most states place a cap on the amount of damages that a plaintiff can receive in a medical malpractice case. Louisiana is no exception. Under Louisiana law, the total amount of damages in a medical malpractice case cannot exceed $500,000.
What exactly are damages? Damages is a legal term that refers to a sum of money awarded to a person as compensation for an injury or loss. In the area of medical malpractice, there are two general types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are designed to compensate a patient for specific costs he or she incurred due to an injury, such as lost earnings and medical bills. Non-economic damages are designed to compensate the patient for other things, like pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Because of the damages cap, a plaintiff who is successful in a medical malpractice claim cannot receive more than $500,000 in damages, even if the jury awarded the plaintiff more than that amount. One important distinction with Louisiana’s law is that future medical expenses are not subject to the limit. In other words, injured patients can receive unlimited coverage for future medical care and any related benefits.
It is worthy to note that the limit on damages is a controversial topic. Many people believe that limiting the amount that an injured person can receive is unfair, especially if a jury found that the person deserved more. Other people argue that damages caps help to reduce the costs of doing business. If there was no damages cap, health care providers may have to pay more not just in damages, but also in medical malpractice insurance. Proponents of the damages cap argue that these costs will ultimately be passed onto consumers, which is not a good thing.
Although people continue to debate the issue, the law is what it is. In fact, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the damages cap a few years ago, stating that the cap was constitutional. For now, the $500,000 limit remains in effect.
If you were injured due to a health care provider’s negligence, you may be entitled to damages. An experienced attorney can help you decide whether to file a medical malpractice claim.