The types of money damages your attorney can recover for you in a medical malpractice or med mal claim include special damages, general damages and punitive damages:
What are Special Damages?
Special damages compensate you for your financial losses in a certain scope. The scope covers medical bills (past and future), loss of income or earnings, prescriptions for medications and more. In terms of medical bills, doctor and hospital bills and any other bill from a medical provider or healthcare professional would be included and covered. For example, this would include a pain management doctor, a chiropractor, a facility for an MRI, a surgery center, an outpatient facility or any other doctor or provider.
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What does it mean when your attorney tells you can get General Damages in your Settlement?
General damages compensate a victim for damages that do not have an exact dollar amount allocated to them. This would be for example the loss of enjoyment or ability to do things once enjoyed between two spouses or husband and wife and is called loss of consortium. Pain and suffering is another legal term given which falls under the category of general damages. The amount of pain and suffering in a car accident case with minor damage to the vehicle and to its passenger would be different from the pain and suffering allocation for a victim of a construction accident that falls through a skylight and requires back surgery.
What exactly are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are permitted in medical malpractice claims but the law does require the conduct of the physician or doctor to be so outrageous and reckless to qualify for this level of punishment. Punitive damages intend to punish the person that must pay them. A doctor that is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while permitting a surgery may be found to be so reckless that punitive damages are warranted.
At the end of the day, what will be awarded by a court or judge or settled between an insurance company and the victim varies on a case by case basis. But the general rule for medical malpractice claims is that these three types of monetary damages are allowed and recoverable.