Damages Available in a Medical Malpractice Case

Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Patients who suffer medical malpractice at the hands of a doctor may suffer permanent, irreversible damage that affects aspects such as quality of life and earning potential. In many cases, your doctor cannot restore what has been lost, in which case, the best that can be done is monetary compensation for the harm you’ve endured. To obtain compensation, it is often necessary to file a medical malpractice suit against the doctor asking for compensation for specific damages and allow a judge and/or jury to decide what is fair for you to receive.

Types of Possible Damage Awards

The types of damages that you can ask for as compensation fall into three basic categories:

  • Punitive damages
  • Special damages
  • General damages

Punitive damages may be available if you have reason to believe that your doctor acted with malice to purposefully cause you harm, or if your doctor should have known that injury would result from his or her actions and proceeded anyway. In the latter case, it may not be necessary to demonstrate that the physician’s intention was malicious.

Special damages relate to expenses that you would not have if the medical malpractice had not taken place. They can include past and future medical bills, costs for prescription medications, purchase prices for mobility aids, etc.

General damages compensate for the suffering caused by the malpractice that cannot be easily quantified:

  • Pain and suffering (physical and/or mental)
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Loss of enjoyment/quality of life

Limits on Award Amounts

Most people who file medical malpractice suits have legitimate complaints. However, a few attempt to file fraudulent malpractice claims in order to try to make a quick buck. Not only does this waste the court’s time but it costs the system a great deal of money. Some states have imposed caps on general damages, i.e., those not capable of exact calculation, such as pain and suffering, awarded in a medical malpractice case in order to discourage potential plaintiffs from filing fraudulent suits.

If you live in a state with a cap on general damages, you will receive no more than the maximum amount allowed by state law. This is true even if the jury says you should receive a greater amount, and regardless of the extent and severity of your injuries. Because each state imposes its own cap, the amounts vary. In some states, it is as low as $250,000.

However, you shouldn’t let caps on award amounts prevent you from filing a medical malpractice suit if you have reason to believe you have a legitimate claim. Contact a law office to learn about your legal options.

Resource: Medical Malpractice Lawyer Charlottesville, VA, MartinWren, P.C.

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