Plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits are eligible to receive two types of compensation, economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are intended to compensate the injured patient for financial expenses and losses that result from the negligence of the defendant. On the other hand, non-economic damages are meant to compensate the patient for losses that do not have an intrinsic value, such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
Types of economic damages that may be awarded in a successful medical malpractice lawsuit include:
- Medical Expenses – Injured patients are entitled to obtain the cost of their medical care and treatment related to the injuries they sustained due to the defendant’s negligence. In order for the patient to recover for these damages, he or she must show the court that the costs were reasonably necessary for the treatment of their injuries and that those injuries were proximately caused by the negligent acts or omissions of the medical professional.
- Lost Wages – A plaintiff can also obtain compensation for the wages they lost due to the defendant’s negligence. In order to recover these wages the plaintiff needs to prove that the injuries were the result of the negligent actions or omissions of the defendant that that those injuries prevented him or her from earning the wages being sought in the medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Loss of Earning Capacity – If the plaintiff is able to prove that the harm resulting from the defendant’s negligence compromised their ability to earn future wages, he or she could be awarded damages for lost earning capacity.
Non-economic damages may also be awarded even though they are harder to determine. Common types of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and Suffering – Not only can the patient be entitled to recover for their actual physical pain, but they may also be able to recover for the emotional distress that results from the negligence of the medical professional.
- Loss of Consortium – The injured plaintiff’s spouse may also be able to recover for damages due to the loss of marital benefits. Consortium includes emotional and intangible elements of a marriage, such as affection, comfort, companionship, and sexual relations.
Additionally, if the victim is disfigured or has lost the ability to enjoy the pleasures in life, he or she may also be awarded damages for those reasons as well.
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