Understanding Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Medical malpractice (sometimes abbreviated to Med Mal) occurs when a healthcare professional’s negligence or substandard care leads to harm or injury to a patient. When victims of malpractice pursue legal action, one of the key aspects of their case revolves around damages. Damages refer to the compensation sought by the injured party to cover their losses and suffering. As a reputable medical malpractice law firm in Tampa, Florida, Swope, Rodante P.A. understands the complexities of damages in Med Mal lawsuits. It is equally important that patients and families understand the concept of damages, the types of damages available, and the factors that influence their calculation when considering a malpractice claim.
Types of Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases
In malpractice lawsuits, there are typically two broad categories of damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.
- Economic Damages: Economic damages are tangible, measurable losses that can be quantified in monetary terms. They include medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, future medical expenses, and any other financial losses directly related to the malpractice. These damages aim to compensate the victim for their out-of-pocket expenses and financial hardships resulting from the negligence.
- Non-economic Damages: Non-economic damages are more subjective and are awarded for the pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other intangible harms experienced by the victim. Unlike economic damages, which have a clear monetary value, non-economic damages are often more challenging to quantify. They aim to provide compensation for the non-monetary losses endured by the victim due to the malpractice.
Factors Influencing Damages Calculation
Several factors come into play when determining the amount of damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. These factors may include:
- Severity of the Injury: The extent and severity of the injury caused by the malpractice significantly influence the damages calculation. More severe injuries, such as permanent disability or loss of bodily functions, typically warrant higher compensation.
- Medical Expenses: The total medical expenses incurred as a result of the malpractice, including past and future medical costs, play a crucial role in determining the economic damages. This includes expenses for hospitalization, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical treatments.
- Lost Wages and Future Earnings: If the victim had to miss work due to the injury or suffered a loss of earning capacity, these factors are taken into consideration when calculating economic damages. Future earning potential may also be considered if the malpractice results in long-term or permanent disability.
- Non-Economic Factors: Non-economic damages are more subjective and can vary based on factors such as pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and diminished quality of life. The impact of the malpractice on the victim’s overall well-being is carefully assessed to determine an appropriate compensation amount.
Settlement vs. Trial Verdict
In medical malpractice cases, damages can be awarded through a settlement negotiated between the parties involved or by a verdict issued by a court. Settlements offer the advantage of resolving the case more expeditiously and providing certainty in terms of compensation. However, if a fair settlement cannot be reached, pursuing a trial verdict allows the victim to present their case to a jury, which will determine the appropriate damages based on the evidence presented.
It is important for victims and families to understand the types of damages in Med Mal lawsuits as they provide compensation for the losses and suffering endured by victims of negligence. Economic damages cover measurable financial losses, while non-economic damages aim to compensate for intangible harms. Various factors, such as the severity of the injury, medical expenses, lost wages, and non-economic factors, influence the calculation of damages. Consulting with one of our experienced attorneys is essential to navigate the complexities of damages and seek fair compensation for the losses suffered.
American Bar Association. (2016). A Patient’s Guide to Medical Malpractice. Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/litigation/materials/2016_sac/ca-med-mal.authcheckdam.pdf
D’Amico, J. J. (2019). Strategies for Economic Experts in Personal Injury Cases. Journal of Legal Economics, 25(1), 25-40.
Florida Statutes Title XLV. Torts. Chapter 766. Medical Malpractice and Related Matters. Retrieved from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0766/0766.html