Damages is a term used to describe the harms an injured person has suffered due to an act of medical negligence. Because physical and mental injuries cannot be erased from time, and we cannot go back in time to prevent an act of medical negligence from happening, money is the only way to measure damages in a medical malpractice case. Damages are intended to make an injured party as “whole” as possible given the circumstances. Different types of damages at issue in a medical malpractice case – whether that case involves a living adult, a minor, or the representatives of a deceased victim – include the following:
- Economic Damages – medical expenses, lost wages, loss of the ability to work in the future, and other measurable damages that can be linked to injuries or death.
- Non-Economic Damages – pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages that do not have a quantifiable dollar value;
- Punitive Damages – when medical malpractice involves egregious conduct (such as operating on a patient while under the influence of alcohol or drugs), an injured plaintiff may be entitled to punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant and prevent future similar conduct.
The types of damages available in a given medical malpractice case will be dependent on the age of the injured party, the type of injuries sustained, and the severity of the injuries. An inability to ever work again is a life-altering consequence of some medical malpractice injuries. That loss of earning capacity is often measured in a medical malpractice case to determine what amount of compensation may be fair for an injured party.
When a person’s injuries have a substantial impact on a loved one, such as a spouse, the spouse may have an opportunity to allege a “loss of consortium” claim. In doing so, the spouse is alleging that he or she has indirectly suffered harm by no longer having the same spousal relationship. For example, if one spouse can no longer work, the other spouse who previously relied on that income may suffer. Additionally, if one spouse’s injuries prevent him or her from ever having relations again, this has a direct impact on the other spouse.
If you or a loved one were harmed by medical malpractice, you could be qualified to file a lawsuit to recover monetary compensation for damages.
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