In a recent California case, a young girl suffered horrific consequences after a routine tonsillectomy. Although this is normally a common medical procedure, 13 year old Jahi McMath suffered complications which resulted in cardiac arrest and brain death. Although the cause of these complications has yet to be determined, if malpractice played a part, an archaic California law will place an arbitrary cap on the value of Ms. McMath’s life.
How California’s Tort Law Devalues Human Life
In 1975, California passed the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). MICRA places a $250,000 cap on pain and suffering caused by medical malpractice. This cap applies to compensation for devastating suffering such as loss of eyesight, limbs, and perhaps most egregiously, brain death.
This cap has not been adjusted for inflation in the nearly forty years since the law was passed. To truly appreciate how this law appallingly devalues the lives of children, think about what 1975 dollars would buy you. In 1975:
- Minimum wage was $1.60 per hour
- The average cost of a new home was $50,000
- The average cost of a new car was around $4,000.00
In today’s dollars, the MICRA cap amounts to about $62,000.00 for a human life.
California’s MICRA Law Protects Bad Conduct at the Expense of the Most Innocent
Again, California’s MICRA law places an arbitrary limit on the lives of children and retirees. Those protected by the law are insurance companies and doctors who place in nine out of ten of the top professional wage earners in the U.S. according to Forbes magazine.
Californians Can Vote to Reform MICRA
Hope is not lost. In the November 2014 election, California voters will have a chance to reform MICRA through a ballot initiative aimed at raising the $250,000 to adjust for inflation.
If you believe you’ve suffered an injury as a result of a doctor’s misconduct, contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Russell & Lazarus APC to discuss your legal options. Call 949-851-0222 to set up a consultation.