If you’re considering taking legal action for an injury or illness you sustained while receiving medical treatment or wondering whether you have a strong claim, you’re likely curious about the average medical malpractice settlement in California. A qualified medical malpractice attorney can answer all of your questions, including the strength of your claim and a settlement estimate.

Types of Medical Negligence in California

Medical malpractice can take numerous different forms; these are some of the most common types of negligent healthcare errors:

  • Mistakes in diagnosing. This includes misdiagnosis, delaying a diagnosis, and failure to recognize symptoms of a medical problem.
  • Failure to treat. Improper care or failure to treat includes not reviewing the patient’s medical history when prescribing or administering care, sending patients home too early, and neglecting to provide the patient with accurate or any directions for follow-up care.
  • Surgical and anesthetic errors. Surgery mistakes can include failing to follow appropriate procedures, operating on the wrong body site, removing a body part unrelated to the surgery, and leaving objects inside the patient that remain after the procedure concludes. Examples of anesthesia errors are providing the incorrect anesthesia and/or dosage or leaving the patient sedated for an excessive period of time.
  • Birthing injuries. Carelessness or negligent conduct can occur before, during, and after the birthing process– potentially inflicting significant, even permanent, injuries to the baby or the mother. Examples include delaying or not prescribing a necessary C-section, failure to recognize or address fetal distress, and not diagnosing a mother’s infection or other complications.
  • Medication and dispensing mistakes. Harmful mistakes can be when the physician prescribes the wrong medication for the patient’s ailment, prescribes a drug the patient has an allergic reaction to or that conflicts with their other prescriptions, provides a patient with another person’s medication, or administers the incorrect dosage. Errors may also happen at a pharmacy if the wrong medication and/or dosage is provided to a patient.


Average Malpractice Settlement Payout and Influencing Factors in CA

There’s no way to determine an accurate average settlement amount for a medical malpractice claim since each case is going to differ greatly and be treated under different circumstances. The court considers various factors that are unique to each malpractice injury case, such as the degree of severity the plaintiff sustained in bodily harm and emotional anguish, the circumstances of the malpractice itself, and the physician’s record and level of alleged negligence.

Generally, if the court rules in favor of the injured individual, they will receive compensation for the entirety of their past and future (and ongoing) medical expenses, including medication, physical therapy, assistive aids, and the like.  If the physician’s negligent misconduct was malicious or especially egregious, punitive damages may be awarded as well. In most personal injury cases, there is no cap on pain and suffering damages, but medical malpractice claims are excluded.

California has a cap on damages for emotional distress within medical malpractice claims. Currently, the non-economic cap for all malpractice cases, except in the event of wrongful death, is $390,000 and will increase each year incrementally to account for inflation. For the families of wrongful death victims, they can currently recover damages for their pain and suffering up to $550,000– which will also be adjusted yearly.

However, the circumstances are different if your malpractice injury claim is against the federal government. As the plaintiff in a federal case, your compensation will be less than it would likely be for a civil claim against a private provider; there will be no punitive damages awarded, but with an experienced malpractice attorney, you can still recover all past and future medical expenses related to your injury along with your non-economic, or “pain and suffering” damages.


Q: How Much Are Most Medical Malpractice Settlements?

A: It’s difficult to determine how much most medical malpractice settlements are. The factors are different for each injury claim and thus influence how the case will be considered during the court proceedings. Your malpractice injury settlement may be awarded upwards of a few hundred thousand dollars or much less, depending on the details of your situation.

Q: What Is the Maximum Malpractice Award in California?

A: The maximum malpractice award in California is as much the injured plaintiff receives for their economic damages, such as medical costs and loss of income, in addition to the caps on non-economic damages.

Non-economic, or “pain and suffering,” damages are only capped for medical malpractice claims. Currently, the cap for non-fatal malpractice cases is $390,000, and for malpractice wrongful death, the cap is $550,000. These caps are adjusted each year.

Q: What Is the Standard for Medical Malpractice in California?

A: The “standard” in medical malpractice in California is the first element in establishing negligence involved. This element refers to your healthcare provider having a “standard of care,” or duty of care, that they’re obligated to provide. As a physician, there’s a level of care expected whenever they treat someone.

This element also establishes that there’s a standard way of treating your ailment that any reasonable doctor would prescribe if tasked with treating your exact situation and with the same information.

Q: What Are the Odds of Winning a Medical Malpractice Suit?

A: The odds of you winning your claim of medical malpractice injuries and damages are directly dependent upon the strength of the evidence against the defendant, the physician accused of negligence. Your malpractice attorney will work diligently to collect as much compelling proof related to your case as possible. Having a skilled litigator on your side increases your chances of receiving compensation for the harm and damage inflicted.

Experienced Malpractice Attorney to Represent Your Claim

By allowing Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates to handle your medical injury claim, you’re gaining legal counsel from a qualified and skilled team of law professionals. Founding attorney Ken M. Sigelman, J.D., M.D., possesses a deep understanding of malpractice law, along with his experienced knowledge from practicing as a physician and surgeon. Schedule a consultation with us today to have your case reviewed and learn the options available.