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Medical Malpractice Pain and Suffering: How Much Can You Get?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on November 10, 2016 2:57 PM

If you're the victim of medical malpractice, you could be entitled to compensatory damages, which are intended to repay you for a particular loss, detriment, or injury. (These differ from punitive damages which are intended to punish bad actors.) A specific set of compensatory damages covers pain and suffering, and in medical malpractice cases, that can be significant.

But healthcare providers have tried to push back on pain and suffering damages and limit the amount that can be awarded in a medical malpractice case. Here's a look at how much you may receive for medical malpractice pain and suffering.

Limited Liability

In response to rising premiums on medical insurance policies, health care providers, other organizations, and even the American Medical Association have advocated for limits on the amount of damages a plaintiff can receive for pain and suffering. They contend that the costs of large jury awards in medical malpractice cases are passed on to doctors through higher insurance premiums, which are then passed on to patients in the form of more expensive medical services. Opponents, however, claim these limits protect defendants from paying an amount equal to the harm inflicted by restricting the ability of juries and courts to analyze the true damage that plaintiffs have suffered.

In the end, most states agreed with the health care providers: 33 states have statutory damages caps for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases. Damages caps create a hard limit on how much plaintiffs can recover in a particular case.

Caps and Care

Therefore, how much you can get for pain and suffering in a medical malpractice claim may be limited by state law. And these limits can vary from state to state. Alaska and California have $250,000 caps, while Oregon and North Carolina cap noneconomic damages at $500,000.

And these are just limits on the upper reaches of a damages award. You must still prove the severity of the injury and the degree of suffering to qualify for pain and suffering damages. If you have more questions about damages in a medical malpractice claim, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.

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