Medical malpractice is an injury that a patient suffers from, due to the negligence of a healthcare worker. The victim can sue the negligent healthcare worker, as well as the employer, to recover damages for the injuries that he or she sustained. In some cases, victims receive a few thousand dollars, while other victims may receive a multi-million dollar settlement. The compensation that a victim receives is referred to as “damages,” which are based on the circumstances of the case; therefore, no two cases will have the same amount awarded.
There are many factors that go into determining how much a malpractice claim is worth. The possible damages include compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are those that directly compensate the victim for their financial losses after malpractice. These can include costs such as:
Compensatory damages will also cover costs associated with the injury that can occur in the future – such as a loss of future earning capacity, or future medical bills. Even if the victim uses his or her sick pay or vacation leave from work, the victim can be compensated for that time.
General damages are not as easily computed like compensatory damages. That is because they do not focus on actual costs; instead, they focus on pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, etc. For pain and suffering claims, the court will consider the severity of the injury, the patient’s prognosis, and the amount of negligence that the healthcare worker is guilty of. If there is permanent disfigurement or disability, the amount would be higher than compensation for injuries that the patient will overcome with time.
Punitive damages are not designed to compensate the victim; instead, they are designed with the sole purpose of punishing the physician or healthcare worker for negligence. These are only awarded in a handful of medical malpractice claims – typically when the healthcare worker’s behavior was so outrageous that the courts want to deter similar actions in the future. For example, if a surgeon performed surgery while intoxicated, and the patient suffered severe injuries as a result, the surgeon’s behavior warrants punishment beyond compensatory damages.
If the errors result in the death of a patient, then the patient’s surviving family members can also collect wrongful death benefits – which may compensate for things like funeral or burial costs, medical expenses, loss of financial support, etc.
If you or a loved one is the victim of malpractice, then you may have a claim against the healthcare worker or the hospital that employed him or her. You will need to speak with a malpractice attorney first to assess your case, and to determine the types of damages that you may qualify for.
Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Contact us online to get started.