How Liability Caps Affect a Consumer
If liability caps were put in place to protect companies and professionals, what benefit do they have to the consumer? One argument in the world of medical malpractice is that if liability caps limit the danger of high-value case settlements, doctors will have to pay less in malpractice insurance and therefore charge less for their services.
Unfortunately, it doesn't always work this way. In most consumer cases, liability caps may indirectly encourage companies and professionals to relax their standards as they know they can't be sued for huge amounts. There's a growing fear that many companies are skimping on their safety measures just because there's a threshold for how financially liable they are for an accident.
Why Medical Malpractice Liability Caps Harm Patients
The two sides of a medical malpractice case settlement are the economic and non-economic damages. The economic damages cover tangible amounts such as medical bills, ongoing treatment, lost wages, and so on. It's when we get to the non-economic, "pain and suffering" damages where lawmakers saw an issue and began setting liability caps
A jury generally determines the amount of non-economic damages to award the victim of a medical malpractice suit. These damages are intended to provide the victim and their family with money to adjust to life after a serious accident. In the event of a wrongful death caused by malpractice, the damages are intended to help the family recover from the loss of companionship and support.
Say you were the victim of an unnecessarily amputated leg. You may need to modify your vehicle, have special clothing or home adjustments made, or other incidentals to make life as normal as possible. The non-economic damages would provide for that, as well as help compensate for the loss of enjoyment of life that you suffer from no longer having that limb.
Liability caps impose a limit on those damages, sometimes shorting deserving victims the compensation they deserve. Case settlements have started in the millions, only to be reduced to hundreds of thousands because of medical liability caps.
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