What Damages Can I Recover?

You are entitled to recover for any actual damages that were proximately caused by the wrongful conduct of the defendant. Actual damages refers to the amount of money it would take to fully compensate you and place you in the same position you would have been in had the injury never taken place. You can recover for losses such as costs of reasonable and necessary medical care, property damage, 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. 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

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 awarded 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.

For medical malpractice actions, the non­economic damages recoverable by all plaintiffs, resulting from the negligence of all defendants, is $280,000, adjusted annually for inflation, except in instances of paralysis due to brain or spinal cord injury, impairment of cognitive capacity, or loss of reproductive ability, in which case the limit is $500,000. The statute makes no specific reference to wrongful death, so it is a matter of speculation whether the cap will apply in death cases.

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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