Medical Malpractice Law Changes for 2023

Have you heard about the new medical malpractice law changes for 2023? It’s important to stay in the know in case you ever experience a medical malpractice injury. In this blog, we’ll explore these changes, what constitutes medical malpractice, and when you should consult with a lawyer. 

What Is Assembly HB 35? 

Assembly HB 35 is a bill that was signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on May 23, 2022. It called for a revision of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). The bill increased non-economic medical malpractice damages for the first time in 47 years. Non-economic damages are those that don’t involve money, such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Because these types of damages aren’t attached to a specific dollar amount, a jury must determine the non-economic damage the plaintiff is owed by the medical provider or health care institution. medical malpractice bakersfield california

In the past, non-economic damages were limited to $250,000. As of January 1, 2023, however, the limit is now $350,000, with limits increasing annually up to $750,000 in the next decade and then 2% annually thereafter. The limits are significantly higher in cases where medical practice results in wrongful death. In this case, damages can be recovered up to $500,000 with annual increases of $50,000 until it reaches the maximum limit of $1 million. The law, which is dubbed MICRA Modernization, also separates health care providers and health care institutions into separate categories for pursuing damages, and the defendant can only be found liable under one category.  

The legislation also addresses the way that contingency fees are paid to lawyers after a plaintiff has been awarded damages. Under the new legislation, contingency fees will depend on when the settlement is actually awarded. If the settlement is agreed upon before the complaint is filed or arbitration is demanded, lawyers can receive up to 25% of the amount. However, if the settlement resulted from arbitration or came after the complaint was filed through a settlement agreement or a court judgment, lawyers can receive up to 33%. 

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when the neglect of a medical provider or health care facility results in the severe injury or death of an individual. For a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must show that the provider or entity breached their duty of care and that their neglect is what caused the patient’s injuries. They must also prove that the patient indeed suffered damages as a result. 

Common Types of Medical Malpractice

There’s different kinds of medical malpractice. Some of the most common include:

  1. Failure to Diagnosis Appropriately 

When a doctor fails to diagnose a serious health condition, it can have devastating consequences. When a patient presents with concerning symptoms, doctors have the responsibility to uncover the cause to the best of their knowledge and ability to ensure that the patient receives the appropriate medical care. However, if a patient is improperly diagnosed and their condition significantly worsens, the medical provider could have severely decreased their chance at making a full recovery. In this case, a medical malpractice claim could be warranted. 

  1. Not Informing Patient of Medical Risks Involved

Under the informed consent principle, medical care providers must disclose all known risks that are associated with any treatment or procedure that a patient will undergo. Patients are required to sign a written document stating that they understand these risks. This is to protect the health care provider or entity in the event that a patient states that they were uninformed about the risks involved. However, in cases where a medical professional fails to gain informed consent and their treatment causes real harm to the patient, the provider could be held liable for medical malpractice. 

  1. Negligent Treatment of the Patient

Doctors have the duty to provide “reasonable” care for each patient. If they perform a treatment that is deemed unreasonable (no other doctor would have chosen the treatment) and the patient is harmed, medical malpractice could be at play. The same is true if a doctor chooses the appropriate treatment but then administers it incorrectly. This constitutes negligence on their part, which could qualify as medical malpractice. 

  1. Surgical Malpractice

Errors made during surgery can cause permanent—or even fatal—injuries to a patient. These surgical mistakes include: 

  • Performing unnecessary surgery on a patient
  • Accidentally leaving objects, such as surgical blades or towels, inside a patient
  • Causing damage to a patient’s nerves, tissues, or organs during the procedure
  • Failing to provide the patient with sufficient follow-up treatment
  • Giving the patient inadequate anesthesia during surgery

These are just some of the surgical errors that can lead to medical malpractice. If a patient is unreasonably injured during a procedure, they should seek the advice of a malpractice attorney as soon as possible. 

  1. Birth Injuries

In some cases, the negligence of medical staff results in devastating birth injuries. Children who experience birth injuries often need intensive care for the rest of their lives. Medical malpractice during birth can also lead to the death of the mother and child. A malpractice claim could be pursued if the plaintiff experiences:

  • Misdiagnosis of a serious health issue
  • Anesthesia errors
  • An unnecessary C-section
  • Failure to receive emergency care
  • Inadequate medical care throughout the pregnancy
  • An injury caused by assistive birthing devices

When medical mistakes are made during the pregnancy or childbirth, infants can experience a wide range of health issues, such as brain damage, spinal cord injuries, fractures, paralysis, and more. Providing adequate care throughout the child’s life can cost families millions of dollars. When a medical provider is the cause of these injuries, families shouldn’t be left to deal with the financial burden on their own. They may have a basis for a medical malpractice claim and should seek the advice of an experienced attorney. 

What to Do If You’ve Experienced a Malpractice Injury

Do you think your injuries are the result of the negligence of a medical professional or health care organization in the Bakersfield area? Your first step should be to consult with a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer. At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we work directly with patients and their families to help them through this difficult time. We’ll review all documentation related to the injury and provide you with advice based on years of managing medical malpractice claims for our clients. We’ll also help you navigate each step of the claims process to ensure you get the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries. Our goal is to hold the provider accountable for their actions so that they provide more responsible medical care in the future. 

Contact a Bakersfield Malpractice Lawyer

If you have questions about the new malpractice laws for 2023, contact the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones today. We have years of experience navigating the changes in malpractice law, and we’d be happy to answer any of your questions. We handle medical malpractice claims for clients in Bakersfield and throughout the surrounding valley. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a malpractice lawyer. 


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