In Virginia, a bipartisan group of senators is leading an effort to “cancel the cap,” to eliminate the cap on damages that can be recovered by an injured person in a medical malpractice case. This is a big deal. For the residents of Virginia and also for the efforts or the hope that it could inspire in neighboring states, like our state of Maryland.
Virginia, right now, has one of the strictest, most unjust, most ridiculous caps on damages that injured people can recover if they’ve been injured on account of a doctor, or a nurse, or a hospital’s negligence.
The cap limits the damages a person can recover to a little over $2,000,000.
Now, $2,000,000 is a lot of money from one perspective. I think a lot of people would be happy to have $2,000,000 in the bank, but $2,000,000 isn’t as great as it once seemed to be. Most of us realize this, especially when we see news anchors talk about stimulus bills that are worth 1.9 trillion dollars every evening. Further, when the cost of healthcare continues to rise, when the cost of treating conditions caused by the medical malpractice continues to rise, $2,000,000 often seems downright unfair.
If someone is injured by a doctor’s negligence, by a doctor’s failure to exercise the requisite skill, and then the injured person’s attorney proves in court that the injured person will have future medical costs of 10 million dollars, then $2,000,000 begins to feel like pennies.
The injured person and their family will be on the hook for the other $8,000,000. Meanwhile the injured person–due to the doctor’s negligence–might not be in the physical or mental state to earn any money, let alone $8 million.
A misdiagnosis, a screwed-up surgery, a delivery doctor missing signs of fetal distress, or various other forms of medical malpractice can leave a patient needing medical care for the rest of their life.
And that’s why it’s so important that people in Virginia applaud the state senators who are fighting to eliminate the damages cap.
Now, Maryland also has a statute that limits the amount of compensation a plaintiff can receive for certain damages in a medical malpractice case. While not as bad a Virginia’s cap, it also is unfair to victims and should be eliminated.