Understanding North Carolina’s Malpractice Damages Cap
Medical malpractice is an area of law that has seen its fair share of debate regarding the appropriate amount of damages that should be awarded for acts of malpractice. While many claim that damages should be consummate with the injuries suffered by victims, others argue that excessive awards raise malpractice insurance premiums so high that medical professionals can no longer afford to practice.
North Carolina is one of a handful of states that places a cap on the amount of damages a plaintiff may collect in a medical malpractice claim. The state passed a law in 2001 that stated that plaintiffs may not collect more than $500,000 in non-economic damages for medical malpractice suits.
Non-economic damages are a specific form of compensation that is no measurable in an objective way like medical bills and lost income. These types of damages are awarded for injuries like pain and suffered, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life. In court, these damages are considered subjective in nature and historically these types of damages and their amounts have varied widely case to case. The non-economic damages cap placed on them by North Carolina is an attempt to address that disparity.
There is one exception to the damages cap, and that is for cases in which a victim has suffered a type of disfigurement or other permanent injury and it was the result of the defendant’s recklessness, malice or intentional act. If a plaintiff can show that his or her damages resulted from this type of conduct, his or her damages would remain uncapped.
While non-economic damages are capped in North Carolina, plaintiffs may still recover the full amount of their measurable damages, including past and future medical bills, lost earning capacity and lost income, as well as any other economic damages a victim can specifically measure.
If you would like to learn more about medical malpractice claims in North Carolina, speak with a dedicated injury lawyer at Lanier Law Group, P.A.