OLR Research Report

January 21, 2003




By: John Kasprak, Senior Attorney

You asked for the definitions of certain terms in recently adopted medical malpractice legislation in Nevada.

The Nevada Legislature passed legislation (AB 1; copy attached) in an August 2002 special session to cap jury awards for pain and suffering (noneconomic damages) in medical malpractice cases. It sets a cap of $ 350,000 and gives plaintiffs three years after an injury to file a lawsuit against a health care provider.

The Nevada legislation exempts from the $ 350,000 cap on noneconomic damages a case (1) “in which the conduct of the defendant is determined to constitute gross malpractice”; or (2) “in which, following return of a verdict by the jury or a finding of damages in a bench trial, the court determines, by clear and convincing evidence admitted at trial, that an award in excess of $ 350,000 for noneconomic damages is justified because of exceptional circumstances” ( 5. 2. (a) and (b), emphasis added).

The act defines “gross malpractice” as “failure to exercise the required degree of care, skill, or knowledge that amounts to: (a) a conscious indifference to the consequences which may result from the gross malpractice; and (b) a disregard for and indifference to the safety and welfare of the patient” ( 6).

The legislation, as best as we can determine, does not define “exceptional circumstances. ”

JK: eh