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Damage Caps in Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Cases

A damage cap is a statutory maximum amount an injured person or plaintiff can recover in a lawsuit for a particular type of harm. Starting in the 1980s, many states enacted damage caps in medical malpractice cases.  They did this because insurers were complaining about ”defensive medicine” and the amount doctors had to pay in malpractice insurance premiums.  The truth of the matter is that insurers were losing money in the stock market through bad investments and were making untrue claims about “frivolous lawsuits.”  So in other words, a hospital or doctor would pay a premium for a $5,000,000 policy, but because of their lobbying efforts and propaganda regarding frivolous claims, they convinced state legislators to past laws limiting liability to less than the policy limit.  Insurers clearly made a profit in doing this at the expense of injured people.   Some of those states have since rescinded the caps after courts ruled they clearly violated an American citizen’s right to equal justice and due process.

Massachusetts caps noneconomic damages, generally referred to as “pain and suffering,” in medical malpractice cases at $500,000, unless the injured person or plaintiff can prove any of the following:

  • Substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function
  • Substantial disfigurement
  • Other special circumstances that indicate application of the cap would produce an unjust result

In all other types of injury cases, a plaintiff may still be liable for any noneconomic (“pain and suffering”) damages the jury feels is appropriate. This includes monetary compensation for:

  • Loss of quality of life due to physical pain and mental suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life due to permanent limitations on activity
  • Loss of consortium
  • Potential shortening of life

If you have been injured due to medical malpractice or any other type of negligence, consult an attorney who knows how to maximize your damage award. To schedule a free case evaluation with Swartz & Lynch LLP, call 857-250-0664 or contact our Boston office online.

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