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As a victim of medical malpractice, you can sue for your injuries and all of the direct consequences of those injuries. 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 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. New Hampshire has statutes limiting noneconomic damages in personal injury cases to $875,000 and in medical malpractice cases to $250,000; however, these caps have been held to be unconstitutional.
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. Damages in a wrongful death action may not exceed $50,000, except when the recovering party is the spouse, child, parent, or dependent relative. Damages for loss of society and companionship may only be awarded to a surviving spouse and may not exceed $150,000.
Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant and deter others from similar conduct. They may not be awarded unless specifically provided by statute.
The state is only liable for up to $250,000 per claimant and $2,000,000 per occurrence in compensatory damages. Political subdivisions such as towns, cities and counties are liable for $150,000 per claimant and $500,000 per occurrence.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified medical malpractice lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local medical malpractice attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.