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State may vote to increase cap on medical malpractice compensation

New Mexico doctors who prescribe drugs must be aware that after taking the drugs, the patient could become dangerous to others, and the error may prove deadly. When medical negligence causes the loss of a loved one, the victim’s family members are devastated. Thankfully, these families often receive compensation for their pain and suffering.

Nine years ago, a driver lost control of his vehicle and struck a man’s son and daughter; they were both killed. Because the driver had been under the influence of prescription drugs, it is likely that the father of the victims received compensation for his pain and suffering. However, the man alleges that the state’s current $250,000 cap for noneconomic damages is not enough to cover all of the pain and suffering that victims’ family members are forced to deal with as a result of medical negligence. 

Now the man is backing a California ballot initiative that would raise the cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits to more than $1 million. The current cap was set in 1975, and since then it has never been adjusted for inflation.

The proposal also includes a measure that would compel doctors to check a national database before prescribing potentially dangerous drugs. If the patient has received a similar prescription from another doctor, the doctor would be prohibited from issuing the patient another prescription. In addition, some doctors would have to pass random drug and alcohol tests.

Opponents are likely to argue that the initiative’s proposals would raise costs for hospitals, which would likely be passed on to patients. If California votes to raise the cap for pain and suffering damages, other states may follow suit. Any victim of doctor negligence may want to seek the help of an experienced attorney.  

Source: ABC 23, “California ballot measure on medical malpractice certain to spark controversy, national interest,” Timm Herdt, July 26, 2013

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