Medical malpractice is one of the most damaging forms of personal injury. The emotional impacts can be just as
significant as the physical. Being harmed by a healthcare professional’s poor choices can lead to long-lasting anxiety, mistrust, and fear that may prevent the victim from seeking medical treatment in the future.
Our Long Island team of medical malpractice lawyers work with victims of medical malpractice to help them recover from the physical and emotional damages they’ve suffered. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a negligent physician, contact us. We will help you recover the damages you deserve.
Kinds of Damages Available in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Four types of damages can be awarded to the plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit: economic, non-economic, punitive, and wrongful death.
The plaintiff can claim one, some, or all of these types of damages depending on their medical malpractice claim. Our medical malpractice lawyers in New York can help you determine which damages you qualify for.
Economic damages are a way to recover financial losses due to someone else’s negligence. These are things that have a physical receipt to prove their cost, although not all of them are paid services. Plaintiffs can support claims for economic damages with physical bills, paychecks, bank statements, or expert testimony for future damage costs.
For example, although you do not receive a receipt for days that you missed work due to your injury or treatment as a result of the malpractice, your paycheck will reflect this difference.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Physical therapy
- Future medical expenses, such as corrective surgery
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate, as they do not have a strict dollar amount attached to them. They are also known as “general damages”, as they fall outside the economic spectrum.
Non-economic damages commonly cover pain and suffering or other emotional losses due to medical malpractice.
To prove and quantify non-economic damages, the plaintiff may require testimony from the victim and their family members, documentation, and expert testimony on their changed quality of life. These supporting measures are meant to help the jury and the judge comprehend the true impact of the medical malpractice on the plaintiff’s life.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earning potential
- Permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Loss of quality or enjoyment of life
Punitive damages are a less common form of damages awarded in medical malpractice cases. These damages are awarded in cases of criminal negligence. The amount is meant to reflect the severity of the medical practitioner’s criminal negligence, rather than reflecting the costs and losses of the victim.
Judges award punitive damages as a way of preventing future criminal negligence. The amount awarded is often substantial to ensure that the defendant does not repeat their mistakes, and to dissuade others from making the same mistake.
Only the judge and jury can determine the amount of punitive damages. They must adhere to constitutional limits when awarding the amount to the plaintiff.
For a plaintiff to claim punitive damages from a defendant, they must prove that the defendant’s error went beyond negligence. This can be by proving that they intentionally caused the error, that they behaved recklessly, or that they were in a mental state that made them unfit to act in their position. It can even extend into criminality, such as performing surgery while impaired.
Wrongful Death Damages
In the worst case, medical malpractice can lead to the death of a victim. Therefore, the individual who directly suffered the medical malpractice is no longer alive to claim damages. However, their family or estate can file a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death damages are meant to cover the economic damages that the victim paid prior to their death, such as medical bills and rehabilitation costs. In addition, the family can claim the victim’s funeral expenses and future financial loss due to the lost wage of that family member.
In addition, the victim’s family can claim non-economic costs, such as the victim’s pain and suffering, and the family’s loss of guidance or companionship.
However, only certain family members may make a wrongful death claim. These must be direct descendants, such as children, a spouse, or the victim’s parents. If none of these individuals are living, the victim’s estate may be able to make a claim for survival damages, which allows for the same claims as wrongful death damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
There are limits on how much money a plaintiff can recover from a medical malpractice lawsuit in some states. These damages caps are more common in medical malpractice lawsuits than other personal injury lawsuits. They may be limited to only cover the amount of economic damages not paid out from an insurance company.
Alternatively, they may cap non-economic damages, while allowing all economic damage claims that can be proven with documentation. However, New York State does not have a damages cap on any type of damages that a plaintiff can claim in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Recover Damages from a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
If you or a loved one have been injured in a medical malpractice lawsuit, contact our expert malpractice lawyers on Long Island. Carner & DeVita will work diligently to prove your claims in court to provide you with the best legal support and help you collect the damages you deserve.