Understanding Medical Malpractice Damages
What are Medical Malpractice Damages?
If you have recently been injured as a result of negligent medical care, you may be wondering what types of damages you could be entitled to in a medical malpractice claim. Damages tell the court system, in terms of a dollar figure, what the patient has lost as a result of the injury sustained. Check out the information below on economic and non-economic damages that could be awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
What are Economic Damages?
Economic damages are easiest to calculate because they take into account the injured party’s lost income and future earning ability. Further, these damages include medical costs incurred by the claimant as a result of the negligent healthcare provided. This could include the loss of a spouse’s income if the spouse had to take time off work to care for their hurt loved one because of the damage done by the defendant.
If you were unemployed at the time of the incident, typically you will be permitted to use previous earnings as your earning capacity if you had only been out of work for a short period of time. However, if you were unemployed for a lengthy timeframe, the other party could dispute your earning capacity. If this is the situation you are in, develop a strategy for claiming lost earnings with your attorney.
In the unfortunate event that you will need medical care for the duration of your life as a result of a medical error, you will want to include these future medical costs in your damages. Your lawyer may want to call in a medical economist to assist in calculating a dollar value to assign to these anticipated costs.
What are Non-Economic Damages?
Non-economic damages can be trickier to calculate as there is no straightforward dollar value associated with these losses. Instead, these losses are subjective and can include things like loss of consortium and pain and suffering. Pain and suffering can include physical, mental and emotional impacts of the injury on the patient. It can be difficult to translate these losses into a number. Loss of consortium is a legal term referring to intangible losses experienced by the victim’s spouse or children.
What Limits are Imposed on Damages Claimed?
Some states have laws limiting the non-economic damages that can be granted in a medical malpractice case. The caps vary and some states grant exceptions for special cases involving catastrophic loss or death of a patient.