May 21, 2019

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Understanding Damages in a Medical Malpractice Case

When you have been injured as a result of medical malpractice, you and your family will be faced with a variety of unexpected expenses. A medical malpractice lawsuit can help you recover the compensation you need to move forward. There are three categories of damages that may be available in your medical malpractice case: special damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

Special Damages

Special damages are those expenses that are capable of exact calculation. These are probably the expenses that first come to mind when you think about your injury. They include:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Household expenses, such as wheelchair modifications
  • Future medical costs
  • Funeral and burial expenses in the case of wrongful death

Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damages, often referred to as general damages, are those damages that don’t have a specific monetary value, but instead represent the loss that was sustained because of the injury. These damages include compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress of survivors in the case of wrongful death
  • Loss of consortium or companionship

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not awarded in every case. They are not meant as compensation for the injured in the case but as a punitive assessment against the defendant for their wrongdoing. Punitive damages are awarded in cases when the defendant’s behavior rose to a malicious level rather than merely being negligent in their duties to the plaintiff.  

Damage Caps

Limits on damages apply to non-economic and punitive damages, and these caps vary by state. For example, Pennsylvania caps punitive damages at twice the amount of actual damages. New Jersey caps punitive damages at the greater of $350,000 or five times the amount of compensatory damages. Delaware does not currently have a damage cap. The laws governing your state will likely vary from these examples.

Not all types of damages are available or will be awarded to a plaintiff in all cases. To understand what damages you may be entitled to in your medical malpractice case, you should consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can help you understand your rights.

This blog post has been submitted by the Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyers at Kline & Specter, PC. With five accomplished physicians on our experienced team of over 35 litigation attorneys, we have won multi-million dollar verdicts for the victims of medical malpractice. We represent clients throughout the United States. Our law offices are located in Cherry Hill New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Delaware.

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