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What Damages Can Be Recovered For Medical Malpractice?

You can recover your actual economic losses such as the costs of reasonable and necessary medical care, rehabilitation services, custodial care, 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 entitled to non­economic damages for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. California places a cap on non­economic damages for medical malpractice cases, limiting recovery to $250,000. Only one $250,000 recovery is allowed in wrongful death cases. There is, however, authority for allowing separate caps for the patient and a spouse claiming loss of consortium.

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 death of a loved one caused by medical malpractice. 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. Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant and are only awarded in rare cases. A plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant was guilty of oppression, fraud or malice. There are no fixed standards as to the amount of punitive damages a jury can award.

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