Medical malpractice lawsuit cases allow patients injured because of medical negligence the opportunity to recover compensatory damages. The goal of malpractice cases is to allow victims to become financially whole again and to compensate for non-economic damages they’ve suffered.
A study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine that examined malpractice cases involving a large liability insurer from 1991 to 2005 found the average settlement to be about $275,000. Settlements can encompass a variety of damages, and consultation with a personal injury attorney in Fort Lauderdale can help injured victims evaluate which damages may be recoverable in their particular claim.
Types of Compensatory Damages
There are two main types of damages payable in medical malpractice lawsuit cases: special and general.
Special damages are more easily calculated because they have a clear monetary value:
- medical bills;
- lost wages; and
- if the victim died, his or her survivors can recover compensation for funeral and burial expenses.
Replacement services are also included under special damages. For example, if a victim is left paralyzed because of the medical malpractice, then replacement services would include someone hired to cook, clean and perform other household chores. This even includes nursing and long-term care services.
If ongoing medical treatment will be needed, patients can claim this in medical malpractice lawsuit cases as well:
- future surgeries;
- physical therapy; and
- other forms of treatment.
Although the costs of future treatment rely largely on estimation, a personal injury attorney can help arrive at this estimation and may call on a medical expert to testify regarding the future care that will be needed.
General damages are also available in medical malpractice lawsuit cases. However, they are harder to calculate because they involve emotional damages. For example, the victim’s pain, suffering; and loss of enjoyment of life are calculated into this equation.
If a victim suffers mental distress from the doctor’s negligence, such as depression, nightmares and extreme anxiety, then these conditions would be factored in as well. An expert witness may be called in to determine how much the victim’s damages are worth by looking at his or her age and activity level. For example, someone who is young and held promising job prospects before the incident would likely recover more compensatory damages than an elderly victim or retired person .
In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded. These are not considered compensatory damages, however, because they do not serve to compensate the victim. Instead, they punish the defendant for his or her gross negligence. In a medical malpractice case, punitive damages are used to hold medical professionals accountable for their past negligent actions as well as in the future and hopefully prevent repeat occurrences.
In order to recover punitive damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit case, it must be proven that the medical professional was egregiously negligent or acted intentionally. An example would be a surgeon deliberately leaving a sponge or surgical tool inside a patient in order to necessitate a future surgery. However, this can be extremely difficult to prove.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
These cases can be very difficult to prove. You’ll have to demonstrate that the medical professional acted negligently by failing to follow a reasonable standard of care expected of other professionals. The New England Journal of Medicine study mentioned previously also noted that only about one in five cases result in a settlement.
If you are a victim and suffered serious injuries because of a doctor’s, surgeon’s or other health care professional’s negligence, talk to a personal injury attorney at Wolf & Pravato in Fort Lauderdale. Contact us today at (954) 522-5800 for help with a medical malpractice lawsuit case .