September 2, 2021 Posted In Medical Malpractice
When a medical professional or healthcare provider’s negligence causes harm to a patient, or worse, it is the victim’s or their surviving family’s right to recover compensation. Compensation can be secured in the form of damages by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. There are three types of damages potentially available in medical malpractice cases: special, general, and punitive.
Special damages also referred to as economic damages, are awarded to reimburse measurable financial losses as a direct result of medical malpractice, such as:
General damages are also known as non-economic damages that compensate victims of medical malpractice for incalculable or subjective losses. The most common examples are:
The law does not provide a formula for placing a dollar value on non-economic damages, but California does have a cap. The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) sets a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages. This cap is highly controversial, especially in cases of extreme negligence, but it has no bearing on economic damages (e.g., medical bills, lost income, etc.).
In medical malpractice cases involving extreme negligence, punitive damages may be awarded. There are no set criteria for what qualifies as extreme negligence. The definition is open to interpretation—and may even vary from court to court. That said, certain situations clearly warrant punitive damages, such as a surgeon performing the wrong procedure or amputating the wrong limb. This type of compensation is awarded to the victim, but it is intended to punish the defendant (at-fault party) and deter others from similar reckless conduct.
Think you might have a case? Contact our Riverside medical malpractice attorneys for a free case evaluation.