Medical Malpractice and Damages

Doctors and healthcare providers are liable for injuries to their patients that result from medical malpractice. Doctors owe a duty to their patients to use a reasonable degree of skill, knowledge and care when providing treatment. When a doctor breaches this duty and the patient is injured as a result, they have committed malpractice. Similarly, under the principle of respondeat superior, a doctor is liable for the negligence of the employees that work under his/her direction. In some cases, punitive damages may be recoverable if the doctor provides a treatment to which the patient has not consented, or if they obtain the patient’s consent for treatment by means of fraud.

The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act or (MICRA) imposes limits on the amount of damages that may be recoverable in a medical malpractice lawsuit. MICRA limits noneconomic damage awards to $250,000. This cap applies to all medical malpractice actions, including wrongful death. However, the MICRA cap on noneconomic damages does not apply to punitive awards. Punitive damages may apply in certain cases, such as when the defendant has committed a battery, or where their conduct amounts to oppression, fraud, or malice. Certain procedures must be followed in order to preserve a claim for punitive damages.