In a medical malpractice claim, there are different types of damages the injured patient can recover. If medical malpractice resulted in the death of a patient, then the patient's family and heirs may also be able to recover damages. In order to get a damage award, the must be proven that the medical malpractice caused damage and that there is some kind of approximate price tag associated with the damage caused. The three categories of damages that may be available in a medical malpractice claim are general, special and punitive.
General damages can be awarded to cover the cost of the patient's suffering. These types of damages do not have a definitive price and include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of future earning capacity.
There are no clear rules as to how general damages are calculated. There will need to be evidence presented, most likely by an expert witness, that can attest to the unusual consequences of your injury. The testimony may give an estimate as to how the value of these damages can be necessary. General damages do not apply to any injuries existing before the malpractice or to any suffering that a pre-existing injury may cause in the future.
Special damages are the quantifiable damages associated with an injury. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, etc. These are often more exact than general damages and may be calculated using medical bills and pay stubs.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the party responsible for an accident and to deter any other individuals who may act in a similar manner. It is up to a judge and jury to decide whether you can receive punitive damages in your medical malpractice claim. The behavior of the medical professional in question would have to have been particularly egregious or reckless in order to warrant punitive damages.
Survival statutes allow a deceased patient's estate or heirs to recover damages that occurred during the time period from the initial medical malpractice to the death of the patient. These damages generally include almost everything allowed in a malpractice suit had the patient survived. However, damages relating to the future, like earning capacity, are not included.
Wrongful Death Statutes
Wrongful death statutes are designed to compensate the patient's family for their future monetary losses. The calculation is more thorough than a simple projection of future salary. Also taken into consideration are factors like the patient's saving, spending and working habits.