On June 16, 2023, Nevada signed into law a bill that would amend the cap on damages in medical malpractice cases. This bill has significant implications for patients and medical professionals alike.

Prior to this new law taking effect, the cap on damages in Nevada was set at $350,000, regardless of the number of plaintiffs, defendants or theories upon which liability may be based. However, under the new law (AB404), this cap will be increased by $80,000 every year for five years, starting on January 01, 2024. Once the cap reaches $750,000 in 2028, it would increase by a flat rate of 2.1 percent per year, beginning on January 01, 2029. In addition, the law requires the Nevada Supreme Court to annually publish on its website the maximum amount of noneconomic damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff in an action for injury or death against a provider of health care based upon professional negligence in each year for the next twenty years. This cap on damages only applies to noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. Economic damages, such as lost wages and past and future medical expenses, are not subject to this cap.

In addition to raising the cap on damages, the new law also extends the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Previously, lawsuits for professional negligence against healthcare providers had to be commenced not more than three years after the date of the injury, or one year after the plaintiff discovers, or should have discovered the injury, whichever occurs first. Under the new law, starting on October 1, 2023, patients have two years from the date of discovery of the injury or when they reasonably should have discovered the injury, or up to three years from the date of the incident to bring a lawsuit.

Finally, the new law changes the limit on contingency fees for attorneys. Previously, attorneys could charge a tiered limit on contingency fees based on the success of the lawsuit previously allowing 40 percent of the first $50,000 recovered, 33 and 1/3 percent of the next $50,000 recovered, 25 percent of the next $500,000 recovered, and 15 percent of any amount of recovery that exceeds $600,000. Under the new law, the tiered system is eliminated and attorneys collect a flat fee totaling 35 percent of the amount recovered.

The team at WSHB is available to answer any and all questions and concerns you may have regarding this new legislation. Please do not hesitate to reach out if we can be of assistance.

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