/ Blog/ 3 Types of Damages Awarded in Medical Malpractice Claims
In a case of medical malpractice, “damages” is a term referring to compensation. With that said, there are 3 types of damages recoverable from medical malpractice: General damages, special damages, and punitive damages. Damages are put into 2 categories: Economic and noneconomic. Noneconomic damages (general) refer to non-monetary losses like physical pain, while economic damages (special) refer to monetary losses, such as lost wages.
Punitive damages are neither economic or noneconomic; the purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate any losses at all, but we’ll get into that a little later.
General damages are noneconomic. They boil down to putting a price tag on another wise subjective injury, such as:
Assigning a dollar amount to someone’s mental anguish, for example, is difficult. Even in similar situations, awards vary greatly between cases; even if a case is similar, the plaintiff could have wildly different after-effects. Given the uniqueness of each case as well as the judge and jury, outcomes can be unpredictable. That’s why it’s hiring an attorney can be helpful.
Special damages are economic: they’re objective, quantifiable out-of-pocket expenses incurred from the malpractice. Any damages awarded to the injured party are measurable and calculated by specific documentation that proves financial losses. To successfully move forward with your case, something as simple as a written letter from an employer or supervisor stating your name, position, rate of pay, etc. should suffice.
Examples of special damages include but are not limited to:
Punitive damages are neither non-economic or economic because they aren’t about conjuring any sort of compensation. The focus shifts from the plaintiff to the defendant, as it exists to reprimand the defendant. They can only be sought if the malpractice was undeniably negligent or outrageous. Think of it as a way to benefit society.
While punitive damages serve as a punishment to the defendant, the plaintiff is still paid damage awards. So, on top of receiving compensation for general and special damages, the plaintiff receives an additional settlement. While punitive damages are possible, they are extremely rare.
The amount of money awarded to the plaintiff is dependent on a jury or judge. If a jury or judge sees fit, a plaintiff could receive a multi-million dollar punitive damage award. Each state varies though; some have ceilings that regulate how much money a plaintiff can be awarded. For example, beginning 2017, the medical malpractice damage cap in Indiana will be raised from $1.25 million to $1.65 million. Then, come 2019, the cap will be raised again to $1.8 million.
Navigating between damages can get complicated. There are a lot of technicalities that can cloud your path toward receiving the compensation you need to move forward with your life. The personal injury attorneys at WKW may be able to clear the way, so get in touch either online or by phone at 317-920-6400 for a free case review.
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