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What Are The Recoverable Damages In Medical Malpractice Cases



For a plaintiff patient to recover damages in a medical malpractice case, she must establish two things:

A. That the alleged medical malpractice caused her claimed damages in some manner; and
B. An estimated dollar amount for claimed damages.

The damages that are recoverable in medical malpractice lawsuits in most states can include, at a minimum, the following components:

  • recovery for pain and suffering
  • compensation to pay medical bills and costs
  • compensation for future losses in wages and earnings
  • and
  • compensation awarded to a patient for a lower or reduced quality of life and health.

The Plaintiffs Damage Recoveries Depend On Many Factors

The range and variety of damages is vast and broad that a plaintiff patient and/or her family can recover when she is injured by medical malpractice of a doctor, nurse, or medical professional. Of course, laws vary by state, sometimes significantly. The plaintiff’s recovery depends on numerous factors, such as the facts and issues presented by the case; timeline of the damages, resulting harm, and its discovery; and defenses of the defendant(s).

Main Categories Of Damages That Are Recoverable In Medical Malpractice Suits

A. General Damages

These are plaintiff’s costs of suffering that are not able to be reduced to a specific price tag. Examples include patient’s loss of enjoyment in life or physical and mental pain and suffering.

B. Special Damages

These damages are measurable expenses caused by the malpractice, like medical bills and prior absences from employment.

C. Punitive Damages

In some instances, a plaintiff may recover punitive damages if a doctor knew that he were acting in a harmful manner in treating the plaintiff patient. The rules for recovery of punitives vary by state.

What Damages Are Recoverable If Medical Malpractice Results In A Patients Death

If the medical malpractice ends with the plaintiff patient dying, then the plaintiff’s family and heirs are the ones who recover damages, along with the plaintiff’s estate. All states have enacted laws that determine damages a patient’s family can recover if medical malpractice results in the death of a patient. These laws are comprised of two types of statutes:

1. Survival Statutes

Survival statutes allow deceased plaintiffs’ heirs, families, and/or estates to recover damages that happened from the first instance of medical malpractice to the point of patient’s death. These statutes include awards for damages in typical medical malpractice suits, with the exception of future damages like future earnings.

2. Wrongful Death Statutes

Wrongful death statutes are enacted to provide awards to a plaintiff patient’s family for future losses. There are specific calculations in these statutes that are complex and consider more than merely future salary of the decedent. Spending, saving, and working habits are considered. Damages for loss of companionship and emotional harm are not usually awarded. The state’s laws will determine which family members may receive compensation. For example, an adult plaintiff’s parents may be barred from recovery, while usually spouses and children are able to recover.