INSURANCE - MALPRACTICE;
January 21, 2003
NEVADA MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LEGISLATION
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. ”