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South Carolina Medical Malpractice Damages Cap

South Carolina Medical Malpractice Damages Cap

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Are damages capped in medical malpractice claims in South Carolina?  – Yes

South Carolina has a statute that places a “cap” on the amount of compensation that can be award to a plaintiff in medical malpractice actions.  In other words, even after a plaintiff proves (and the jury agrees) that the medical provider committed malpractice, the law limits the actual amount of damages that you can receive.

In order to understand the statute, you need to understand the three types of damages. 

Economic damages usually consist of payment from past and future medical care, reimbursement of lost income, compensation for lost earning capacity, and other financial losses caused by the malpractice. These damages are not capped in South Carolina. 

Non-economic damages include compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and the loss of enjoyment of life that resulted from the malpractice.  These damages are not as easy to “capture” with a dollar amount.

Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and deter future bad actors.  They are in excess of quantifiable, economic damages and pain and suffering, non-economic damages. 

The damages cap in South Carolina applies only to non-economic and punitive damages.  In general: there is a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages in any medical malpractice case against a single care provider or institution.

For a judgment against more than one defendant, there is a $1.05 million total non-economic damages cap and a single care provider or institution cannot be liable for more than $350,000.

In South Carolina, punitive damages – damages intended to punish the defendant – cannot exceed three times the amount of actual damages (economic and non-economic damages combined) or $500,000 – whichever is greater.   As an example, if the jury determines $100,00 in actual damages, punitive damages are capped at $500,000.  If a jury awards you $200,000 in actual damages, punitive damages are capped at $600,000 – 3x the amount of actual damages.  There are various exceptions that can both increase or limit the punitive damages cap.  

These damage caps are adjusted each year for inflation.  As of 2021, the current medical malpractice damages caps in South Carolina for non-economic injuries are:  $479,064 against a single care provider or institution and $1,437,192 for each claimant against ALL health care providers involved in a medical negligence claim. As of 2021, the current punitive damages cap in South Carolina is $594,204 or 3x your actual damages, whichever is higher. 

Calculated damages can get complicated.  This is another reason it is important to hire a knowledgeable, creative, and attentive attorney who understands the law and can maximize the amount of compensation you are owed.  

South Carolina Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Shockingly, malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States, falling just behind heart disease and cancer. We entrust medical providers to safely practice the medicine and not injury patients.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case and medical providers act outside the accepted norms of their practice and cause severe injury or even death to their patients.  When medical providers make mistakes, the patient can suffer long last impairments or even death and may have a continued sense of distrust of the medical field. 

If you or a loved on suffered harm because of a health provider’s negligence, you may be able to obtain compensation for your losses by making a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit. Contact a qualified South Carolina Medical Malpractice Attorney.