Medical malpractice happens when a medical facility or a healthcare provider fails to provide appropriate care expected of them or provides substandard care that results in injury or death to a patient under their care. Malpractice or negligence usually involves a medical error and can take the form of a misdiagnosis, improper dosage or improper treatment or aftercare.
If you have been hurt in the hands of a healthcare facility or practitioner, you may be eligible for compensation following your injuries. But, what kind of damages can you claim in your medical malpractice lawsuit?
Generally, three types of damages are recoverable in a medical malpractice lawsuit: general, special and punitive damages. These damages are broadly categorized into economic and non-economic damages.
These are non-economic damages. The goal is to put a price tag on an otherwise subjective injury like lack of companionship or a reduced quality of life. General damages in a medical malpractice claim can include:
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Unlike general damages, special damages are economic. These are objective and quantifiable out-of-pocket expenses that a person incurs following medical malpractice. These include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current and future loss of income
- Home or facility-based care expenses
- Mobility equipment such as wheelchairs
Punitive damages are neither economic nor non-economic. Rather, they are meant to reprimand or punish the perpetrator for their action or inaction. Punitive damages are often sought when the medical facility or practitioner was overly negligent. The goal is to punish the defendant to the benefit of society. Punitive damages in a medical malpractice case are extremely rare.
When you are taken ill, you hope to walk into a healthcare facility and receive the treatment you need to get back on your feet. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. When this happens, the injured patient or their loved ones may consider filing a medical malpractice suit against the hospital or healthcare provider.