Recent studies have shown that medical malpractice caps on non-economic damages exacerbate inequality in the judicial system. Certain plaintiffs are more likely to have a large portion of their award tied to non-economic damages. In particular, those without large annual incomes or who have injuries that cannot be quantified in dollar terms easily. The elderly, stay-at-home parents, and children are particularly affected.
Children harmed by negligence at birth may also be disproportionately affected by these caps. Obviously, by their very name, economic damage must be tied to quantifiable losses, like lost wages. Children who develop cerebral palsy, erbs palsy, or other injuries as a result of negligence may have a hard time identifying many economic losses, beyond basic medical costs and some potential lost wages. However, they obviously have suffered an immense loss in other terms–as they must live a life plagued by various challenges. Juries have long sought to honor those non-economic losses with proper compensation to account for the pain, suffering, and effect on the individual’s life.
Damage caps, however, take that option away from juries. This is one of many reasons why attorneys who work on malpractice cases, including birth injury matters, rally against these destructive “tort reform” measures.