May 26, 2022

On May 23, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 35, legislation to modernize the system for awarding damages in medical malpractice cases in California. The legislation was supported by consumer groups, trial attorneys, health care insurers, and health care providers, marking the end to one of the longest running political battles in California politics.

The legislation was co-sponsored by the Consumer Attorneys of California and Californians Allied for Patient Protection. It makes two significant changes to the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) by restructuring MICRA’s limit on attorney fees and raising MICRA’s cap on noneconomic damages.

The new law increases the existing $250,000 cap on non-economic damages and provides for future increases to account for inflation. The legislation establishes two separate caps, depending on whether a wrongful death claim is involved. In a wrongful death case, the cap increases to $500,000. Each January 1st thereafter, this cap increases by $50,000 until it reaches $1 million. If the medical malpractice case does not involve wrongful death, the cap starts at $350,000, and increases each year by $40,000 until it reaches $750,000.

The prior law placed limitations on the contingency fee an attorney can contract for or collect. The prior system tied the limits to the amount recovered. An attorney could collect 40 percent of the first $50,000 recovered, 33 percent of the next $50,000, 25 percent of the next $500,000, and 15 percent of anything that exceeded $600,000. The new law ties tiered fee limits to the stage of the representation at which the amount is recovered.

California Medical Association President Robert E. Wailes, M.D. stated with regard to the new law: “With today’s signing of AB 35, we have achieved what few thought was possible. This historic moment happened because the two sides of the ballot measure campaign put differences aside, found common ground, and recognized a rare opportunity to protect both our health care delivery system and the rights of injured patients. We are immensely grateful to the Legislature and Governor Newsom for helping to codify this landmark agreement in law. California’s new modernized MICRA statutes will provide predictability and affordability of medical liability insurance rates for decades to come, while protecting existing safeguards against skyrocketing health care costs. The modernized law will also bring greater accountability, patient safety and trust by making it possible for physicians and patients to have a full and open conversation after an unforeseen outcome. CMA is proud to have been part of this landmark achievement for the benefit of all Californians. We look forward to a new era of long-term stability around MICRA that will allow California’s physician and provider communities to focus on other ways to improve access to care and public health for all Californians.”

Consumer Attorneys of California President Craig M. Peters stated: “Injured patients deserve to be fairly compensated when their rights have been violated, and we commend the leadership of Governor Newsom to help get this done. Injured patients and their families are better off under the modified MICRA, and we look forward to continuing to serve in the best interest of our clients.”

For full text of the bill, visit:


If you or a family member were injured as a result of medical malpractice in California or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a California medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Visit our website or call us toll free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in California or in your state who may assist you.

Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.