Plaintiffs in medical malpractice can potentially obtain two types of compensation: economic and non-economic damages. In order to compensate an injured patient for financial expenses and losses that resulted from negligence of the defendant, the plaintiff may be awarded economic damages. To compensate the patient for losses that do not have an intrinsic financial value, such as the loss of enjoyment of life, non-economic damages may be awarded. However, not every medical malpractice case is successful. When damages are awarded though, the amount each plaintiff recovers varies.
If a plaintiff is successful in their medical malpractice lawsuit, they are typically awarded economic damages. Economic damages can include:
Medical Expenses: Injured patients are entitled to obtain damages for the cost of their medical care and treatment. This treatment must be related to the injuries he or she sustained because of the negligence of the defendant. These costs must be reasonably necessary to treat the patient’s injuries that were proximately caused by the negligent actions or omissions of the defendant medical professional.
Lost Wages: Plaintiffs also obtain compensation for wages they lost because of the negligence of the defendant. It must be proven that the injuries the plaintiff suffered, that resulted from the defendant’s negligence, prevented the plaintiff from earning the wages being sought.
Loss of Earning Capacity: Victims of medical malpractice can also permanently lose their ability to earn a living the way they did prior to the malpractice. The plaintiff must prove that the harm that the defendant’s negligence resulted in the plaintiff’s ability to earn wages has been compromised in the future.
In successful medical malpractice cases, non-economic damages may be awarded. However they are harder to determine an amount for. Non-economic damages can include:
Pain and Suffering: Patients who have been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional may also be able to recover for actual physical pain and the emotional distress that also resulted.
Loss of Consortium: The injured patient’s spouse may also be able to recover damages. The spouse can make a claim for damages for the loss of marital benefits resulting from the defendant’s negligence. Consortium includes the emotional as well as intangible elements of marriage, such as affection, comfort, sexual relations, and companionship.
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