To help combat the rising premiums and increased payouts that have some physicians considering giving up practicing, Congress has implemented damage caps that limits the amount of money that can be paid out on claims of damage from malpractice and essentially lowers the premiums that insurance companies are allowed to charge. While issued at both the federal and state level, many states have implemented damage caps specific to their reading of constitutional rights. Because of this damage caps are not universal and can vary greatly state-by-state.
Objections to Capping Damages
There are opponents to capping damages that feel these limitations can take away from patients who have suffered serious economic and non-economic injuries. Opponents feel that, in cases of gross negligence, patients should receive more than the damage caps allow.
Usually these disputes over damage cap amounts are over what are known as punitive and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the doctor or medical facility for malpractice or negligence and are not related to the actual amount of money such an act has set a patient back financially. Non-economic damages are those not related to monetary damages associated with the malpractice, examples include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Overall loss of quality of life
Proponents for Caps
On the other side of the argument, proponents of damage caps believe such limitations keep medical insurance rates down for both consumers and medical professionals, as well as keep gross or otherwise staggering sums of money from being awarded in medical malpractice cases.