California’s MICRA Protections Are Under Attack From “Hybrid” Lawsuits

October 29, 2019

California health professionals know the strong medical liability protections offered through the state's long-standing $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. These damage caps level out insurance markets by stabilizing payment severity and reducing claims frequency.  However, a "hybrid" lawsuit strategy is gaining in popularity as a means to skirt the state's damage limit and churn out multi-million dollar awards.

In one notable medical liability case, a jury awarded $9.25 million in non-economic damages. The court refused to apply limits set under California's Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) because the plaintiff’s attorney successfully argued a "hybrid" accusation. The hybrid tactic alleges both professional negligence and medical battery. Medical battery falls outside of California’s non-economic damages cap.

The case noted above is now under appeal. If not overturned, it could be the beginning of the end for MICRA protections that have been in place for more than 40 years.

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