California raises caps on medical malpractice lawsuit awards

The California Legislature on Thursday agreed to increase how much money people can win in medical malpractice lawsuits, resolving one of the thorniest disputes in state politics by raising a cap on damages for the first time in 47 years.

Since 1975, the most money a person in California could win for pain and suffering in a medical malpractice lawsuit has been $250,000. Starting Jan. 1, that cap will increase to $350,000 for people who were injured and $500,000 for the families of people who died.

Those amounts would gradually increase over the next decade until they reach $750,000 for injured patients and $1 million for families of deceased patients. After that, the caps will increase 2% every year to keep up with inflation.

The state Assembly voted on Thursday to send the bill to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has said he will sign it into law.

Thursday’s vote also avoids a costly ballot initiative fight this year. Supporters have agreed to withdraw their ballot initiative once Newsom signs the bill into law.

“The fights that appear to bind us for decades are only as impossible to overcome as we allow them to be,” said Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes, a Democrat from Colton who authored the bill.

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