When you or someone you love suffers an injury or some other kind of harm at the hands of a negligent medical professional, you may have the right to file a lawsuit against that party. However, there are a number of complicated factors involved that could impact the amount of compensation you may recover.
For any injured party, it’s important to understand what can be done about medical malpractice and what damages you may be entitled to in a lawsuit. There are typically two categories of damages that may be recovered: economic and non-economic.
In some situations, punitive damages may come into play and there is additional compensation that may be recovered. Understanding what these damages are, how they’re determined, and the state laws regarding potential caps is important and can help you have a better understanding of what to expect.
What are Economic Damages and How are They Calculated?
The first type of damages we’ll discuss is economic damages. These are any and all damages or losses that can be directly associated with a monetary value experienced by the injured party either out of pocket or as a result of the injuries sustained.
For instance, medical expenses fall under the category of economic damages because there is a known value associated with these costs that you can prove in the court of law. Your medical records show the costs of treatment stemming from the injury you sustained.
Economic damages can also apply to wages that you may have lost being unable to work due to your injury. If your injury was significant enough to cause you to miss a few months of work, your income for that duration would be calculated and you may be awarded compensation for the lost time.
Other types of economic damages may include the costs of prescription medication and medical equipment you may need as a result of your injuries. Also, if you must make any modifications to your home or vehicle, these may also be calculated based on the exact price you paid.
What are Non-Economic Damages and How are They Calculated?
When it comes to non-economic damages, these are much more difficult to determine as there is no proof to show a direct value regarding the damages experienced. These are all based on non-pecuniary injuries that the plaintiff may experience.
Typically, non-economic damages are designed to cover pain and suffering that the individual may endure. Mental anguish that can be caused as a result of the trauma you experienced may fall under non-economic damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
When the injury causes something such as disfigurement or a loss of consortium, you may also file a claim for the non-economic damages you lost. However, it’s important to recognize the caps placed on non-economic damages in the state of Ohio.
Because the decision for non-economic damages is in the hands of the jury and there is no quantifiable amount associated with them, Ohio placed a cap regarding how much can be awarded to a plaintiff in non-economic damages for medical malpractice cases.
The caps state that the plaintiff may recover the greater value of either $250,000 or three times the total awarded as economic damages with a maximum of $350,000 per plaintiff, and $500,000 per incident. For example, if economic damages totaled $125,000, the plaintiff could receive the maximum $350,000 for non-economic damages, despite three times the economic damages being $375,000.
In cases where the plaintiff has suffered a permanent deformity, disability, loss of limb, paralysis, or other substantial physical damage and can no longer care for themselves, the limits regarding non-economic damages increase to $500,000 per plaintiff and $1 million per incident.
What are Punitive Damages and How are They Calculated?
Punitive damages work a lot differently than either economic or non-economic damages. Whereas economic and non-economic damages are directly related to the physical, financial, and emotional hardships the plaintiff suffers, punitive damages are used strictly to punish the defendant.
When the defendant acts in a manner that is considered malicious or they knowingly act in a manner to cause harm, they may be punished by having to pay an additional amount to the plaintiff to not only prevent them from causing harm again, but to also deter others from acting in the same manner.
The state of Ohio also caps the amount someone can receive under punitive damages. The value is capped at twice the amount the plaintiff receives in compensatory damages. For instance, if you are awarded $150,000 in economic damages and $300,000 in non-economic damages, the cap on punitive damages would be $900,000.
However, in situations where the defendant is either an individual or small business, punitive damages can be capped at 10% of the total value of the case with a maximum of $350,000.
Learn How Our Cleveland Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help You Seek Compensation
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you deserve to have someone represent you and give you the voice you need to step forward. You deserve to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions that have caused you harm.
At Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber, we have a firm understanding of how medical professionals can act in a way that causes patients harm. You should be able to trust your medical provider to care for your health—not be a detriment to it.
You can work with our Cleveland medical malpractice lawyers to learn more about what rights and options you may have moving forward. We’ll work to secure the maximum compensation to which you are eligible. Trust our firm to guide you from start to finish.
Call our firm today at (216) 600-0114 to schedule a free consultation and speak with a legal professional about your potential case. We’re here for you.