The NC Legislature amended the law governing medical malpractice in October 2011 sharply reducing the rights of individuals injured by the negligence of medical providers. While a number of rules of evidence were changed, the cap on non-economic damages garnered the most public attention. Non-economic damages are typically referred to as pain and suffering and has been capped at $500,000.00 regardless of injury or death suffered. As such, a woman who has a mastectomy because a doctor misdiagnosed her will only be able to get $500,000.00 for her injuries. Even individuals who will require lifelong care for their injuries will be capped at $500,000.00. This one size fits all approach is a boon to insurance companies but is detrimental to individuals.
There are exceptions to the cap and it is important that individuals who have been injured contact an experienced NC medical malpractice lawyer to discuss whether they fall within the exception. To satisfy the exception you must suffer a permanent injury, loss of use of a body part or disfigurement. Further, there must be evidence of gross negligence or reckless disregard for the safety of the patient by the physician. The most common example is when a physician is under the influence of an impairing substance. As such, while you may satisfy the first requirement satisfying the second requirement is quite difficult, which is the intention of the legislator when they wrote the bill.