Caps on damage awards are supposed to keep insurance premiums down. But they invariably do not have that effect. Insurance companies raise premiums based on a host of conditions. Premiums are not increased on the basis of whether a particular state has caps.
Equally important is the fact that caps penalize those most in need of the funds generated from a malpractice verdict. For instance, California has a law in place since 1975 which limits malpractice verdicts to $250,000. The high cost to bring malpractice cases to trial typically makes cap of $250,000 quite effective in reducing the number of medical malpractice commenced in California. But malpractice premiums rates in California have continued to rise, with no correlation to the caps law. Recently consumer groups have been pushing to increase the caps on malpractice damages in California, through that state’s referendum process.Supporters of the proposed changes correctly point out that the $250,000 cap is outdated, and would like to see the caps increased to 1.1 million, with additional adjustments matched with the inflation rate.
This makes sense. It’s tough to see how a person’s life can be minimized in value to only $250,000. Pennsylvania has no such cap on malpractice verdicts law. There have been attempts in the past to try and push such laws through the legislature. So far, those laws have been defeated.