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Is there a cap on medical malpractice damages?

If you have suffered harm due to the negligence of a health care provider, you have the right to seek monetary damages as compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. In Wisconsin, economic damages receive unlimited coverage from the malpractice compensation fund. However, according to the Washington Post, there is a $750,000 cap on payouts for noneconomic damages. Wisconsin is one of 31 states to have such a cap. 

Legal challenges to the cap on noneconomic medical malpractice damages have taken place in the past. Court records indicate that in 2011, a Wisconsin mother of four lost her limbs to amputation due to gangrene that resulted from a septic infection of which her doctors allegedly did not inform her. A jury awarded the woman and her husband $15 million in noneconomic damages in compensation for inconvenience, suffering, pain and disfigurement as well as $8.8 million in economic damages, for a total award of $25.3 million. 

The couple then challenged the $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages on grounds that it is unconstitutional. In 2018, the matter went to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which upheld the constitutionality of the cap in a 5-2 decision. Despite the two dissenting justices who said that the cap denies full damages to the catastrophically injured, the Chief Justice stated that it provides reasonable compensation for injuries while helping to keep health care costs down and does not represent a violation of equal protection under the law because the same cap applies to everyone. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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