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MICRA Modernization Amendment Signed Into Law, Increasing MICRA Damages Caps

On May 22, 2022, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 35 (“A.B. 35”) into law, resulting in major changes to California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (“MICRA”). The primary effect of A.B. 35  is to increase the cap on noneconomic damages awarded to plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Originally enacted in 1975, MICRA established a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages awards. MICRA went into effect during a time when doctors were rapidly leaving California due to rising insurance premiums resulting from high medical malpractice awards. With A.B. 35’s enactment, there will be a new non-economic damages limit for medical malpractice suits. Starting on January 1, 2023, cases not involving a patient’s death will have a new limit of $350,000, which will steadily increase over the next 10 years to $750,000. Meanwhile, cases involving patient death will have an increased limit of $500,000, with incremental increases over the span of 10 years to $1 million.