Important news for anyone whose practice is privately insured: Recent increases in the non-economic damages cap in medical malpractice cases could put you at risk of not having enough insurance.
As we all know, the non-economic damages in Maryland medical malpractice cases are “capped” by tort reform laws. According to the statute, the limit on non-economic damages increases by $15,000 at the beginning of each year. This year, 2019, the cap for non-economic damages for medical injury increased to $815,000, and the cap for wrongful death in medical malpractice claims became $1,018,750 (for two or more beneficiaries). This marks the first time since the law was enacted in 1986 that the claimant can recover more than $1 Million in non-economic damages. This is of concern, particularly for private insureds who often have only $1M in medical malpractice insurance coverage.
While the Maryland legislature is considering changes to the cap, a prudent physician or insurer may wish to revisit and raise the limits available for medical malpractice insurance coverage. In our view, barring some legislative relief, these rates will only continue to increase.
Bottom Line: This “cap” increase can result in personal exposure to health care providers, especially private insureds who often have only $1M in coverage facing wrongful death claims. To limit their exposure, we suggest raising limits available for medical malpractice coverage.
If you have any questions about this or any other issue concerning the non-economic “cap,” please feel free to contact us.