Unfortunately, a medical malpractice case is one of the most difficult and challenging cases to pursue. There are many reasons for this, including the difficulty in proving that a healthcare professional was negligent, the costs associated with pursuing a case, and the public’s inherent perception that healthcare professionals are very good at what they do and should not be held accountable for “accidents”. Couple this with the unfortunate perception that a medical malpractice verdict will increase everyone’s insurance rates, and the claimant bringing the medical malpractice case faces an uphill battle.
In the early 1970s, prompted by the cry from medical insurance companies and medical professionals that medical malpractice verdicts were out of control, the California legislature responded with a body of laws, known as MICRA, that put severe restrictions on the recovery for medical malpractice victims. This included a cap of $250,000 for pain, suffering, and emotional distress, regardless of how serious the injury that resulted from the malpractice. (Economic damages, such as loss of earnings or total medical expenses actually paid or to be paid in the future by the claimant, are still unlimited.) Critically, this $250,000 cap was never adjusted for inflation despite the passage of nearly 40 years: if it were, the $250,000 cap would far exceed $1 million dollars.
Fortunately, the laws are changing, and the cap has recently increased to $350,000. Still, that is often an insufficient amount to compensate for the pain, suffering, and emotional distress that can result from medical negligence.
As a result of the cap, many attorneys are unwilling to accept medical malpractice cases unless the economic damages are quite high. At Edzant Price LLP, we believe that a victim of a healthcare provider’s negligence should have access to the legal system, even for cases that do not approach the $350,000 cap. Therefore, we undertake selective medical malpractice cases with values under the $350,000 limit.
However, because of the nature of these claims, we are very selective in the cases we take, and liability must be reasonably clear. The injuries suffered by our client at the hands of a physician must have a substantial impact on the victim’s life, and it should be easily established that the medical negligence was the cause of the victim’s injury. Nevertheless, our most important criterion for accepting a medical negligence case is a firm belief that our client is deserving of compensation. The injuries suffered by our client at the hands of a physician must have a substantial impact on the victim’s life. Since most medical malpractice cases throughout the state of California are lost at trial, undertaking a medical malpractice case requires considerable investigation even prior to acceptance of the case.