Last updated on August 7th, 2023
Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor, or other health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence might be the result of an error in diagnosis, treatment, after-care, or health management.
Patients who suffer from damages in medical malpractice may recover, from loss of earnings to payment of medical bills to compensate for the loss of enjoyment of life. The three kinds of specific medical malpractice damages are known as General Damages, Special Damages, and Punitive Damages. If a patient’s death results from medical malpractice, the patient’s heirs can also typically recover damages under state Survival Statutes and Wrongful Death Statutes.
States vary widely in their treatment of damages in the medical malpractice arena, and nearly half have put limits or “damage caps” on what a plaintiff can recover. You can take a look at Ohio’s caps here or Indiana’s here.
A patient who suffers from medical malpractice may be entitled to three types of damages: General Damages, Special Damages, and Punitive Damages.
General Damages relate to the suffering of the patient and include such things as pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, and a loss of enjoyment of life. They can also include the suffering of other people related to the patient, such as a spouse or child who might claim loss of the benefits of a family relationship.
General Damages are considered “non-economic” because they are speculative. They also include loss of future earnings because this, too, is a speculative element. Every case is different and there are no specific rules about how the exact amount of damages is determined.
Special Damages are the quantifiable expenses caused by medical malpractice, including medical bills and lost wages. Although there is often some guesswork involved, particularly when it comes to future medical expenses, Special Damages are typically more exact than General Damages.
General Damages and Special Damages are considered to be “compensatory,” and are designed to make the patient whole. In some circumstances, however, the patient may be able to recover Punitive Damages. The rules on when a patient may get Punitive Damages vary from state to state, but the general requirement is that a defendant’s negligent conduct was highly reckless, or his misconduct was intentional or malicious.
AN EXPERT TIP FROM DOUG MANN
A jury or judge determines the amount of Punitive Damages, if any, but typically they cannot be more than several times the amount of General Damages and Special Damages combined.
Depending on the state, there may be a limitation on the maximum amount of total damages the patient can recover. Some states put a cap on all damages combined. Other states only limit General Damages.
Many states require that the damages assessed by the judge or jury be reduced by the amount the patient received from insurance and other sources.
Every state has a Survival Statute and a Wrongful Death Statute that allow heirs and family members to obtain damages in the event of medical malpractice that results in a patient’s death.
Survival Statutes compensate the decedent’s estate for damages that the decedent would have been entitled to from the time of the initial malpractice until the date of death. In some states, both damages for pain and suffering and economic losses are allowable. In others, only economic losses are compensable.
Wrongful Death Statutes are designed to compensate the patient’s family for their future monetary loss, both in terms of a projection of the patient’s future salary, as well as taking into account the patient’s financial habits.
The Civil Justice Resource Group, a coalition of legal scholars from law and graduate schools around the country that supports the civil legal justice system, estimates that up to 120,000 people die each year due to medical malpractice. The number of patients injured is many times higher. Yet only a very small percentage file medical malpractice cases.
While not every medical treatment has the desired outcome, healthcare professionals and physicians must provide their patients with a level of care that meets professional standards. If you or a loved one was injured as the result of substandard care at a hospital or medical facility, a medical malpractice lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you legally deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, please fill out the form below for your free consultation or call us at 1.937.222.2222
After an accident, and being inundated with offers from out-of-town lawyers, I called DGMS, and I am glad I did. They took over and I received a maximum payout very quickly after all the medical was done. Especially, Amy K. who always took my calls, and answered all my questions promptly. Thanks Amy K.
The team did a superb job of keeping me in the loop in regards to my claim. Brittany did an amazing job as my paralegal, following up with me as soon as she had news on my case. I truly can’t thank the Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz firm enough. If you are looking for legal representation that will truly fight for you, these are the guys to go with!
This will be the second review I have written. Can not say enough about Mr David Marquis, he has went above and beyond for me with my case. From day one, he has worked very hard for me to ensure that I would get what I was deserved. Also, his paralegals, Amy Smith and Allison was a God send. Whenever I had a question, they would get back with me within minutes.
I would highly recommend you to anyone. Thank you Mr Marquis and your staff for all you have done for me.
201 East 5th St.