ABC TV-10 San Diego – Victims Of Medical Malpractice Call For California Law To Be Changed

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For 2-year-old Steven Olsen, a hike in the woods and a fall on a stick would change his life forever.

"They (the doctors) thought, 'Oh, he has meningitis,'" said Steven's mother, Kathy Olsen.

However, that was not the case. Steven was suffering from an infection from the fall. It spread from his hand to his brain quickly. Doctors ran more tests and determined he had bacterial meningitis. They pumped him full of steroids and other medicines and sent him home.

"We woke up at about 6 in the morning the next day and he wasn't moving," said Olsen.  "His brain had hemorrhaged by then and he couldn't move. He was kind of unconscious."

After he was rushed to the hospital and underwent rounds of tests, a CAT scan revealed that Steven had a brain abscess.

After surgery, Steven was left blind and suffered brain damage. At 2 years old, he could not see, eat, walk or even speak.

"He wasn't a baby. He was a little bit bigger and he couldn't do anything for himself. It was hard. It would get so frustrating for him because he couldn't get his point across," said Olsen.

Olsen and her husband started their battle in court in 1994. A jury awarded the Olsen family $7.1 million but a California law limited that the amount was capped at $250,000.

"The law was created back in 1975. The economy has changed, cost of living has changed … to me, everyone has gotten a raise but this law hasn't changed. We've let this go on way too long," said Olsen. "We hope the legislation would just index it to the economics from 1975 to now, which would come to $1.1 million. It will never be fair 'cause you've lost so much, but at least it will be a little bit more," said Olsen.

She said she knows her family cannot go back but she is fighting for others like her son, hoping that other families will not have to go through what they have.

"We know how little this money can stretch and maybe had he (Steven) got three times more it would have helped. It wouldn't have made him whole, but it would have helped," said Olsen.

Critics say lifting the cap will drive up health care costs.

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