Medical Malpractice Damages

When you go to a doctor or other medical professional with a physical or emotional ailment, you expect them to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.  Patients have learned to expect a certain level of care from their medical professionals.  When that standard of care is not met, you should be compensated for the injuries that were inflicted upon you. Your health is the most important thing you have.  It is precious.  And when your health is marred in any way, especially when the harm could have been prevented, you need to fight for it.

If you or a member of your family has been the victim of negligence from a medical professional, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries.  The dedicated lawyers at Wapner Newman will fight for your rights and hold the negligent people responsible.

When you file a claim for medical malpractice, the most important part is damages.  Damages can be defined as a remedy that an injured party requests from a court in order to make them whole again. In medical malpractice cases, there are three types of damages that an injured person can seek from the court or claim to an insurance company: economic damages (also called compensatory damages), noneconomic damages, and punitive damages.

The Three Types of Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the easiest to calculate, because the numbers come from actual monetary losses. Below are types of economic damages that you can claim in a medical malpractice case:

  • Medical Expenses – This type includes all of your medical expenses to date, including hospital bills, prescription medication, travel to and from doctor’s appointments, and other payments that you made out of pocket. Medical expenses can also include copays to your doctors. If you were injured in a medical malpractice case, it is important to keep track of any medical expenses and bring them to your first appointment with your medical malpractice attorney.
  • Future Medical Expenses – Future medical expenses include any medical bills that you will have in the long term, including the cost of in-home care or ongoing therapies (physical or otherwise) that you need in order to recover. If your house needs to be altered in any way to accommodate your injuries, this is also included in the damages that you will seek.
  • Lost Wages – If you have been injured from medical malpractice, you may miss work because of these injuries. Missing work will cause you to have less income coming in, at an important time in your life. You can claim lost wages in your medical malpractice claim.
  • Lost Earning Potential – When you are severely injured in a medical malpractice case, you may not be able to work again. Your future earning potential can be calculated based on what you would have made if you had not been injured. Also, any benefits that you would have had from your work can be calculated into these types of damages.

Economic damages are there to make you monetarily whole. Once those damages are calculated, you can then work with your medical malpractice attorney on noneconomic damage claims, which are a bit more difficult to calculate.

Noneconomic Damages

Noneconomic damages are intangibles that do not have a specific and obvious value. These types of damages are usually more disputed because they do not have a  definite amount attached to them. Some types of noneconomic damages include:

  • Pain and Suffering – Pain and suffering can include physical or emotional pain, distress, disfigurement, and other factors. Pain and suffering also includes issues that may come up in the future, such as PTSD or permanent disfigurement. While there is no formula attached to pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases, there are some factors that come into play when trying to put a number value on it. Some of the factors include:
    • The age of the injured person
    • The seriousness of the injuries that were caused by the malpractice
    • The types of medical treatment needed after the injuries
    • How permanent the injuries are.
  • Loss of Quality of Life – Those injured in medical malpractice claims can also pursue damages for diminished or loss of quality of life. That means the ability to take care of daily living activities, such as dressing or bathing yourself.  Diminished or loss of quality of life also means the inability to enjoy other things in life, such as playing sports or traveling. Again, while more difficult to prove, a knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help determine whether you can get damages for loss of quality of life.

As we have seen, noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases can be tricky, but not out of the question. It is up to you and your lawyer to figure out whether you will be able to get noneconomic damages.  Even more difficult is obtaining punitive damages for your medical malpractice injuries.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages in medical malpractice cases are designed to punish defendants whose actions are considered to be intentional and egregious.  An example of an award for punitive damages is when a surgeon operates on the wrong part of the body or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol while performing surgery. It is important to know that punitive damages in medical malpractice cases are not often awarded, because there is a high standard of proof in such cases.

Caps on Medical Malpractice Damages in Pennsylvania

In many states, there is a cap on the amount of damages that a victim can get under a medical malpractice claim.  One good thing for those injured by medical malpractice in Pennsylvania is that there is no cap for economic or noneconomic damages. However, there is a cap for punitive damages, even though winning compensation for this type of damages is rare.

Under Pennsylvania’s Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund Act which was signed into law in 2022, punitive damages are limited to 200% of the economic damages award.  As an example, if a jury awards $2.5 million in economic damages in a medical malpractice case, the maximum punitive damages award would be $5 million.

Also, not all of the compensation for punitive damages is paid to the injured victim.  The victim gets paid 75% of the punitive damages while 25% goes to the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error fund

Wapner Newman Answers Your Questions on Medical Malpractice Claims.

While we understand that every case is different, there are common questions that we hear about medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania and we would like to share those with you.

How long do I have to file a medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania?

The statute of limitations to file a medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania is 2 years from the date that the injured person noticed the error.

How much compensation can I get for my medical malpractice claim?

That depends on many factors, including the severity of the injury. Also, it will also depend on whether or not you settle out of court with the insurance company or try your luck and go to trial.

Do I need a lawyer to file a medical malpractice claim?

Technically, you do not need a lawyer to file a medical malpractice claim. Nevertheless, you should strongly consider hiring one because these types of cases can be very complex and an experienced medical malpractice lawyer knows how the procedure works.

What types of mistakes amount to malpractice in the medical field?

If a doctor is negligent in providing the accepted standard of care, a medical malpractice claim can be filed. Some types of negligence include failure to diagnose an illness or failure to warn a patient of risks of taking a certain prescribed drug.

Will I have to go to court?

In some circumstances, medical malpractice cases are settled out of court with the negligent party or the insurance company. But, if a fair settlement can’t be reached, you may have to appear in court.

Contact the Law Office of Wapner Newman for a Free Consultation Today

If you or a member of your family has been injured by the mistake of a medical professional, the medical malpractice lawyers at Wapner Newman can help. We understand that your life has changed dramatically because of the negligence of someone you trusted with your health and well-being.  Our dedicated lawyers have the backbone and diligence to make sure your case is heard and your rights are defended.

At Wapner Newman, we have won millions of dollars for our clients and have won awards for our diligent work in fighting for our clients’ rights. Contact us today at (215) 569-0900 for a free consultation. We’re here for you!