Damages In Medical Malpractice Cases


How does one hold bad doctors and other medical professionals accountable when mistakes are made and patients become injured as a result? Readers already know the answer; sue the offending practitioners and ask the court to award the victim damages.

The experienced Kingston medical malpractice attorney knows exactly what damages are, but non attorneys might find the concept rather abstract. Sure, most people have heard that compensation can be gained as a result of pain and suffering; but damages covers much more than just that. In fact, compensation for damages sustained after incurring an injury is so broad that several categories of damages exist; general, special, and punitive.

Discussing general damages is a good place to start because they are often the hardest to calculate. Take pain and suffering for example. Pain and suffering fall into the general damages category. How does one place a dollar figure on pain and suffering? Such is a valid question for all general damages. Things like pain and suffering, lost future earning capacity, and lost enjoyment of life do not come with a price tag attached (compare to a medical bill that does have an exact price tag).

Medical malpractice attorneys will determine the value of such things by proving the extent of one’s pain and suffering, for example. The greater one’s pain has been since the medical malpractice, the greater the award amount will be. Past cases and judgments can benchmark amounts in some instances as well.

Special damages should be a touch more easy to calculate, but not in every instance. Medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages are all special damages and are calculated much easier. Future medical expenses also fall into this category and are a good example of another damage that is hard to calculate.

Punitive damages are the last category and are not often seen. This is because civil courts are not supposed to punish the bad doctor. Instead, civil courts exist to restore the victim’s losses. This is important because medical malpractice cases are tried in civil courts.

With that said, civil courts do have the power to punish negligent medical professionals when such professionals commit especially offensive acts; intentional, wanton, and or reckless acts. Punitive damages is how civil courts punish offenders (they cannot put the offender in jail, so the bad doctor is hit in the wallet). Since punitive damages are rarely awarded, injured patients should be cautious about the possibility of getting them; the experienced medical malpractice attorney will know when a case is ripe for the asking of punitive damages.

In addition to the above, people other than the victim can receive damages too; wrongful death and survival actions allow compensation for family members.

But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com. You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.