If you have been subject to medical malpractice at the hands of a negligent doctor, then damages might be the last thing on your mind, but damages are one way to hold your negligent doctor accountable. However, not all damages in malpractice cases are the same. There are three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. When calculating damages in West Palm Beach medical malpractice cases, a medical malpractice attorney can be an invaluable asset. Contact a West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer to learn more.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Economic damages generally refer to things like lost wages, loss of ability to earn income in the future, the cost of medical care that a person has already received and the estimated cost of any future medical care that they may need. They are calculated either based on the amount that was actually billed, the actual amount of lost wages or, for future damages, they may hire experts who estimate what those damages are going to be and present that to a jury. Non-economic damages or human damages are for things like aggravation of a preexisting injury, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, disability, disfigurement, and pain and suffering.
If a person is not able to settle their case, the jury is responsible for calculating damages in West Palm Beach medical malpractice cases. It can be a little more confusing than economic damages because they do not see a medical bill that is there but the factors that they consider and try to determine is what is an appropriate amount of money to balance the extent of the harm that the person has suffered and the length of time that they are going to suffer from that harm in the future.
If somebody is rendered a quadriplegic at a young age and they are going to be like that for the next 50 years, that is going to be a factor compared to if somebody just receives a broken arm that is going to heal in six months. Generally, there are no caps on economic and non-economic damages or human damages in medical malpractice cases with some minor exceptions.
Most efforts to cap damages have been determined to be unconstitutional, that is, people have the right to have a jury determine what their damages are. Caps on damages only affect the most seriously injured people. A good medical malpractice attorney understands that and will know how to present to the court that any effort for caps would be unconstitutional.
Explaining Punitive Damages
Punitive damages, in contrast to economic damages or human damages, are damages that are designed to punish wrongdoing and to act as a deterrent to others when engaging in that type of behavior. They are reserved for the most egregious of behavior. When calculating damages in West Palm Beach medical malpractice cases, someone must prove that the healthcare provider was grossly negligent or was reckless in the behavior. It is more than just simple negligence.
It is not very common for punitive damages to be awarded. They only happen in the most egregious of cases. The primary factor in influencing the awarding of punitive damages is the egregiousness of the behavior, that is, how bad of an actor the person was. For example, if they were operating while they were under the influence of alcohol or were using the patients as guinea pigs for some experimental medical procedure without telling them, then a jury would consider in awarding punitive damages.
Are Punitive Damages Calculated Similarly to Economic and Non-Economic Damages?
There is a relationship of punitive damages to economic and non-economic damages but there are limitations on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in Florida typically no more than three times the compensatory damages with some minor exceptions. The ratio for determined on a case-by-case basis but, typically, it is three-to-one, that is, no more than three times what the compensatory damages are. Typically, punitive damages cannot exceed a certain multiple of the economic and non-economic damages.
Value of an Attorney
An individual needs an experienced medical malpractice attorney to be able to discover the necessary evidence to be able to establish the egregiousness or how bad the behavior was in order to sustain the punitive damage claim. Furthermore, a lawyer can explain how the process of calculating damages in West Palm Beach medical malpractice cases works and can help you pursue those damages. If you have sustained injuries as the result of medical malpractice, get in touch with an attorney who will fight for you.