Types of Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases
By Younker Hyde Macfarlane on February 18, 2014
When a patient is injured by a negligent medical professional, our medical malpractice attorneys take these matters very seriously. It is our goal to take these people to task, ensuring that they are held accountable for such egregious errors that can impact a patient's life and the lives of the patient's loved ones for years.
One way that we help ensure our clients are well served is in seeking damages. We'd like to take this opportunity to consider the nature of damages in medical malpractice cases, why they are so important, and what kinds of damages are sought.
What are damages?
Damages refer to money that is obtained in order to cover losses and to punish the negligent party. There are two kinds of damages that are sought in medical malpractice lawsuits (and personal injury cases in general):
- Compensatory damages
- Punitive damages
It is not uncommon for our attorneys to seek both compensatory damages and punitive damages in a case. Let's look at both in a little detail right now, starting with compensatory damages.
About Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages are damages that are sought in order to cover material losses as well as hardships that have been experienced. Some examples of compensatory damages include:
- The cost of further medical treatments
- Funerary costs
- Physical rehabilitation fees
- Psychological counseling fees
- Lost wages due to a medical mistake
- Loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering
The above are generally assessed by tabulating actual costs/bills. With regard to pain and suffering, similar cases are considered to determine the proper monetary value.
Example of Compensatory Damages
Say that a surgical mistake during a routine procedure has led to the inability for a patient to use her right arm.
When seeking compensatory damages, money will be sought to cover any wages that have been lost in the present and near future because of the problem, the loss of earning potential in case this is a lasting disability, the cost of any future medical treatments or physical therapy to restore some (if any) mobility to the arm, and so forth.
Similar considerations apply to all sorts of cases, where they involve medication errors or misdiagnosis.
About Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are damages that are sought in order to punish the medical professionals and facilities that are responsible for any errors made. By punishing these parties, our team holds them accountable for their actions and helps call attention to needed reforms in medical care practices. This is a means of helping promote change and ensuring our doctors meet a standard of care.
Since there are no material losses covered in punitive damages, the amounts sought are generally assessed by considering similar instances of medical malpractice as well as the unique circumstances of the patient's case.
Example of Punitive Damages
Let's return to the compensatory damages example. In this instance, punitive damages would be sought to punish the surgeon for making an unacceptable mistake.
Learn More About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
If you would like to learn more about your legal options following a doctor error, be sure to contact our Salt Lake City medical malpractice lawyers today. The entire team here looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you make wise decisions regarding your legal options.
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They were extremely knowledgeable, extremely helpful experts. The team helped me with all aspects of my case, including medical and financial, and understood that it affected more than me but also my family.- Jill S.