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Are there limits on damages for medical malpractice in Missouri?

| Nov 2, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

As of 2015, medical malpractice claims in Missouri face certain caps based on the severity of the injury. As the Missouri Department of Insurance explains, a new state law differentiates catastrophic from non-catastrophic injuries and sets noneconomic limits for each type.

This means that you may still receive compensation for all of your actual related expenses but that courts are now limited in how much they can order for pain and suffering, loss of occupation or other damages. The law further established incremental increases in these limits annually through the year 2050.

Catastrophic injuries

Missouri law currently defines catastrophic injuries as those “resulting in quadriplegia, paraplegia, the loss of two or more limbs, significant and permanent cognitive impairment, irreversible failure of a major organ, or significant loss of vision.”

These severe and life-altering injuries increase the maximum medical malpractice damages a plaintiff may receive, but only if he or she demonstrates that the injury was due to malpractice. In the year 2021, for example, the cap for non-economic medical malpractice claims is $442,574 while victims of catastrophic injuries may collect as much as $774,504.

Non-catastrophic injuries

Under state law, non-catastrophic injuries include all malpractice injuries that the law does not explicitly define as catastrophic. However, the plaintiff cannot claim any minor injury — even if the physician was negligent. He or she will need to demonstrate that the injury caused actual damages. Subsequent medical records or hospital bills are a good way to demonstrate this, but you may provide other evidence showing the physical, mental and financial suffering you incurred as a result of the injury.

Non-catastrophic injuries are subject to the lower caps on damages as of 2015, but they can still provide significant alleviation after an incident.

Malpractice

Whether the injury was catastrophic or not, the plaintiff will need to prove malpractice on the part of the medical professional. You will need to show that the physician or other professional owed you a duty of care and was not simply a bystander or uninterested party. You will then need to demonstrate that the professional deviated from the expected standard of care and that he or she should have known that the deviation would cause you injury.