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What Damages can I Claim in a Medical Malpractice Case?

Jul 20, 2015 | Medical Malpractice

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, you know how life turns upside down after the incident. The repercussions are wide-ranging. Your health is affected adversely. The quality of your life decreases. You are emotionally upset. Even your work life can suffer.

Medical malpractice may also lead to the death of the victim which unfortunately happens even in America. As a victim or someone who was dependent emotionally, physically, or financially on a deceased patient, you are entitled to be compensated for the loss you have suffered for no fault of yours. Know about the types of damages you can claim in a medical malpractice case, so you are not deprived of your rights.

General Damages

In a nutshell, general damages are the cost of the patient’s mental and physical suffering. Like many other types of damages, these damages are not tangible, and some amount of guesswork and lots of minute calculations are needed to arrive at a dollar number.

A medical malpractice victim can file for three types of general damages. Patients can seek compensation for the physical and mental pain he has suffered.

He can seek compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life arising out of the incident. This refers to the decrease in the quality of life of the individual.

If the patient is young and has suffered a long-term or worse, permanent disability because of negligence, he is entitled to be compensated for the loss of his future earnings. In this case, it is worth mentioning that the patient can also claim damages if his injuries have rendered him incapable of performing the duties of his current job and forced him to seek out a lower-paying role.

In all the above cases, expert testimony and evidence are needed to prove the damages, predict the consequences of the injury based on what is considered normal, and ascribe a dollar value to the patient’s sufferings.

Special Damages

These damages refer to the tangible costs of the medical negligence action and can be calculated from the bills and the evidence of work days missed due to the injury. The patient is also entitled to be compensated for future medical, rehabilitation, and/or care-giver expenses for a long-term or permanent disability. However, some amount of guesswork is also involved while calculating special damages.

Punitive Damages

The laws for seeking punitive damages and the amount that can be claimed vary across states. The patient has a claim if he can prove that the doctor knew that he or she was behaving dangerously or was taking an undue risk at the time of the action that led to the injury. The amount of damages that can be claimed is usually calculated as a proportion of the general and special damages.

Damages When the Patient Dies

Some states allow the spouse or the children of a patient who has died as a result of medical malpractice, his heirs, or the estate to claim damages under certain provisions of the survival and the wrongful death statutes.

According to the survival statutes, the heirs or the estate of the deceased patient can claim all the damages related to a medical malpractice lawsuit accept those expenses that project into the future.

According to the wrongful death statutes, usually the patient’s spouse and children and in some cases, his parents can claim compensation for future monetary loss. The guidelines vary across states. Some states also allow some family members to seek compensation for loss of emotional companionship.

Knowing about the types of damages in a medical malpractice suit and their scope can help you recover what is rightfully due to you and help you rebuild your life.