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What Is Your Medical Malpractice Claim Worth?

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on April 15, 2016 6:58 AM

If you are injured due to the negligence of a doctor or hospital or in a healthcare setting, you have a medical malpractice claim. How much it will be worth depends on many factors.

The biggest issue is the extent of injury you've suffered, and that will largely dictate what you can recover. But there is also the opposition to consider: who you are suing. You may be bringing claims against multiple defendants and that could impact recovery. Here are some basic damages considerations.

Compensatory Damages

Most medical malpractice lawsuits award compensatory damages only, meaning you can recover for expenses surrounding injury, projected future costs, and other losses. You can seek compensation for your medical expenses, lost work, and how much care you will need. Again, much depends on the extent of your injury and how you are personally affected in light of the circumstances of your life.

Medical malpractice cases are complex precisely because they involve a lot of work and professional expertise, witnesses who can testify about medical standards and how they were breached, as well as actuarial reports on future expenses. Your lawyer has to prove the defendants breached a professional duty of care to you.

If it is shown that medical professionals fell below the standard of care of the reasonable doctor or hospital in same or similar circumstances, proof of damages is provided. This is when the experts and reports are critical. Beyond compensatory damages, you might also have a basis for seeking punitive damages.

Punitive Damages

In some situations, when the breach is truly egregious, a plaintiff will seek punitive damages. These are a form of financial punishment, a payment for the grave negligence that injured the plaintiff.

Not everyone seeks punitive damages. But one justifiable claim came in a case where a surgeon deliberately engraved his initials in a woman's body, truly adding insult to injury. Understandably, she wanted the doctor punished.

Talk to a Lawyer

For a sensible determination of potential damages, you must speak to a lawyer who knows medical malpractice. State laws vary and there are limitations on recovery, known as damages caps, plus other factors to take into consideration. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee, so don't hesitate to contact a lawyer for help today.

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