What Damages Can Be Awarded in a Medical Malpractice Case?

Visiting the hospital can be an incredibly costly experience. If you become the victim of medical malpractice while visiting a doctor or hospital, the costs can skyrocket even higher. When a doctor or other medical professional makes a mistake or is negligent during the course of treatment, it’s often the case that further treatment will be required to make the patient whole. On top of that, experiencing medical malpractice often causes a great deal of pain and suffering for patients and their families who put their trust in medical professionals to treat them with the best possible care. For these reasons, there is a wide variety of damages that a patient injured by medical malpractice can recover.

In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the types of damages an injured patient can pursue, including medical bills, loss of enjoyment of life, to future earnings losses.

Proving Medical Malpractice

Before getting into what damages an injured patient or their family can pursue, it’s important to note that they must first prove medical malpractice occurred. Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional causes harm to a patient by intentionally or negligently failing to follow the proper standard of care. Not every negative outcome experienced by patients qualifies as medical malpractice. Only when a medical professional fails to apply the standard of care that other medical professionals would apply under similar circumstances. To prove medical malpractice occurred, it’s best to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can properly investigate the case and, if need be, consult with a medical professional.  

Types of Damages

Once an injured patient has proven medical malpractice has taken place, they must also show that an approximate price tag can be put on the damages. There three categories of damages available in medical malpractice cases, which are general, special, and punitive.

General Damages

General damages refer to the cost of a patient’s suffering that does not have a definite price. Examples of general damages include loss of enjoyment of life, physical and mental pain and suffering, and loss of future earning capacity. When pursuing general damages in a medical malpractice case, it’s important to remember that every case is different. There aren’t clear rules about how the exact amount of damages is determined. If an injury existed before the malpractice occurred, damages are not available.

Special Damages

Special damages are the more quantifiable expenses that are caused by medical malpractice. These include medical bills and past missed work. Because special damages are quantifiable, they are easier to calculate. The challenge often arises around determining future medical expenses.

Punitive Damages

There are some situations where a patient will be able to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish medical professionals who commit medical malpractice intentionally. Punitive damages are often difficult to recover because proving intent can be difficult.  

Damage Caps in Oregon

In many states, there is a cap on the amount of damages a patient can receive after they have proved to a jury that medical malpractice has occurred. Often, states limit non-economic damages, including compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and other subjective losses. In Oregon, however, this is not the case. There is only a cap on the amount of non-economic damages that can be received when the defendant’s medical malpractice played a role in causing the patient’s wrongful death. In these cases, the cap on non-economic damages is $500,000.

Contact an Attorney

If you or a loved one has experienced medical malpractice, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield. We can discuss your case or answer any questions you may have during a free consultation. With over 70 collective years of legal and trial experience, we’re well-equipped to answer any questions you may have or represent your case in court if need be.

 


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