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Medical Malpractice: The Details Of Damages

By Expert Author: R. Klettke

Damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit are classified as either "economic", "non-economic." or punitive/exemplary.



Medical malpractice: Economic damages



Economic damages are also called “special damages”, and non-economic damages are known as “general damages”. While these damage awards are very different, both are given with the intent to help the victim return as close as possible to the condition in which they existed prior to the event that prompted them to hire a medical malpractice lawyer to file the lawsuit.



Medical malpractice: Non-economic damages



Economic damages refer to quantifiable sums of money such as, but not limited to: loss of past, present, and future income, health insurance, bonuses, and vacation benefits, Physician payments, facility, pharmaceuticals, and ambulance, bills, medical equipment and/or supplies, including projections for all future ongoing medical care that may be needed for care related to the medical malpractice case. These so called special damages are usually not a source of contention between the two parties since the amounts can be easily calculated via wage statements, receipts, bills and estimates.



Defining and calculating non-economic, or general damages can present some difficulty however, due to it’s inherent ambiguity and subjectivity. The amount of general damages is usually inferred from reviewing the amount of special damages, supported by additional facts about the case. For example, the more injury documented in the medical record, the higher the general damage award will be. General damages are awarded for abstract losses and can include: emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation, loss of support, loss of companionship and loss of love, disability, disfigurement, and general pain and suffering. Although the above-mentioned experiences are all quite subjective, it is interesting-to-note that the non-economic award will typically far exceed the economic damage award.



Exemplary/Punitive Damages



The final type of damage is the most rare and is the most difficult to prove. In order to be awarded punitive damages, the personal injury attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases must show that the medical care provider willfully and consciously chose to deprive the plaintiff of their rights and engaged in wantonly reckless behavior that directly resulted in a injury for the patient.



R. Klettke is a freelance writer. He writes about personal injury and medical malpractice law and other matters of jurisprudence.



Note: This article is not intended to provide legal advice upon which you should rely in making any decisions regarding the instituting or prosecuting of a legal claim. Laws and rules relating to the bringing of a claim vary widely from state to state. You should always contact a personal injury attorney to obtain information as to the rules and the laws pertaining to any claim you might have.

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