Sunday, March 30, 2014

Attempts in two sates to increase the amount of caps on damages

In California, consumer advocates have filed over 800,000 signatures to place a voter initiative on the ballot in November 2014 to, among other things, raise the cap on damages in medical malpractice actions, at least allowing it to keep up with inflation.  The PopTort has more information and links.

Meanwhile, the TortsProf blog is reporting that in Kansas  the state Senate and House have passed similar bills to gradually raise the non-economic damages cap in personal injury cases from $250,000 to $350,000. The major difference between the bills concerns the collateral source rule. The Senate version would allow jurors to hear testimony about whether a plaintiff's damages were covered by insurance; the House struck that provision.

Hopefully, the House version will prevail. One important goal of tort law is to shift the cost of accidents onto the persons who are responsible for the harm. The collateral source rule helps preserve this goal because, without it, it’s likely that costs would be shifted away from the wrongdoer to the injured party and his or her insurance provider.  Exonerating the tortfeasor because the plaintiff can "afford" the cost of the accident also does nothing to advance another goal of tort law: deterrence.

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