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Medical malpractice caps could change following election results

Inflation's sting may be felt anywhere from the grocery store checkout to a monthly water bill as some California families struggle to make a stagnate paycheck stretch further and further. This ache may be particularly difficult to deal with when it comes in the form of medical bills, especially ones that could have possibly been avoided. While victims of medical malpractice can seek compensation for both their bills and pain and suffering, some argue that the cap on certain damages isn't appropriate for this day and age, and the issue was to be voted upon in the midterm elections on Nov. 4. 

Back in 1975, the state of California put a cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice claims. For victims seeking justice for unnecessary pain and suffering, the most they can receive is $250,000. If inflation were taken into account, that figure would stand at $1.1 million. Proposition 46 sought to raise this cap to more accurately reflect the current economic times. 

Opponents of this proposition have spent roughly 50 times the new proposed cap of $1.1 million in an effort to defeat it. Some claim that noneconomic damages should still have a cap as pain isn't really subject to inflation. They also point to the fact that economic damages for medical bills and other expenses have gone up since 1975. 

Compared to 1975, $250,000 won't go nearly as far for a medical malpractice victim as it once did. While it is true that economic damages have indeed gone up to reflect the seemingly ever-rising cost of medical care, noneconomic damages appear to be stuck, even for those who face life-long disabilities because of a physician's negligence. Supporters of Prop. 46 hope that the recent midterm elections will pop the cap off of pain and suffering so that victims can be rightfully compensated.

Source: insurancejournal.com, "California Malpractice Proposition Hit by Polls, Studies, Spending", Don Jergler, Oct. 29, 2014

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