What Damages Can Be Recovered For Medical Malpractice?

As a victim of medical malpractice, you can sue for your injuries and all of the direct consequences of those injuries. You can recover your actual economic losses such as the costs of reasonable and necessary medical care, rehabilitative services, costs of domestic services, and loss of earnings. The law allows compensation for future medical and care expenses that the claimant can prove will be reasonably necessary to treat the injury caused by the malpractice. The claim may include income the claimant can prove will probably be lost in the future because of the injuries. Loss of earning capacity is also allowed when the patient proves he or she is less able to earn a living as a result of the injuries caused by the malpractice.

You are also entitled to non­economic damages for physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional suffering, physical impairment, inconvenience, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium (disruption of your personal relationship with your spouse), etc. There is no definite standard of calculating reasonable compensation for these types of damages other than being just and reasonable in light of the evidence. Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant for reckless or malicious behavior and are only recoverable in rare cases.

In certain instances, damages may be awarded to families of injured claimants for loss of care, companionship, love and affection. Family members can be compensated for the wrongful death of a loved one. These damages may include medical and burial expenses, loss of income that would have supported the family members, emotional suffering, and loss of the pleasures of the family relationship.

Non­economic damages for wrongful death are limited to $400,000 and punitive damages are limited to $75,000. Liability of governmental entities and their employees is limited to $400,000 per occurrence and they are immune from punitive damages.

Any settlement will be reduced if there appears to be a good chance that the claim will not be successful. If you were partially at fault for the accident, the amount of damages will be reduced by an amount deemed just and equitable. Benefits received from collateral sources may be used to reduce your recoverable economic damages. Other factors that may reduce the damages include past medical history, pre­existing injuries, and prior claims history.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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