If you’ve suffered harm due to medical malpractice and you’re filing a lawsuit, the reason will be to recover the damages you’ve incurred. This is a legal term for financial losses. There are economic damages in a medical malpractice case, such as the money you’ve lost from work and your medical bills. There are also non-economic damages, which are more subjective. These include pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and others.
The following is a closer look at some of the specific damages you may be able to recover by taking legal action. The law firm of Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh has a team of attorneys who have a deep knowledge of medical malpractice and will work to make sure you obtain the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Past and Future Medical Bills
You’ve no doubt already started to see the medical bills pile up, of course. They’re coming in so fast that you might be feeling a sense of panic since you might not have any idea how they’re going to get paid. We see this a lot, whether we’re representing clients hurt by medical malpractice, a car accident, or harmed in some other way.
Suppose you suffered a particularly severe injury, one that could require even more treatment as the years go by. A medical malpractice lawsuit could provide money for not only the bills you have now but also the ones you will accumulate in the future.
But it’s very important that you have an attorney who knows how to properly calculate those expenses and knows what to demand from the medical professionals who caused your harm. If you’re offered a settlement, don’t accept it without talking to a lawyer first. The reason is that if you take it, you won’t be able to pursue any further compensation. If that settlement isn’t enough to cover all of your bills – now and down the road – you’ll be responsible for paying them.
Past and Future Lost Wages
It’s pretty easy for an attorney to calculate the money you’ve lost so far because you can’t work. All they’ll need will be your pay stubs. But if you won’t be able to go back for a long time, you’ll have to take that into account as well. An attorney will work to not only help you recover your current lost wages but the ones you’ll continue to lose due to the injury.
Loss of Earning Capacity
This form of damages in a medical malpractice case is related to your past and future lost wages, but there’s also a significant difference. You can’t just produce some pay stubs and show what you would have made in the future. There are a lot of other considerations to take into account.
Loss of earning capacity basically means you can’t earn what you would have if the malpractice hadn’t happened. Say you’re a mechanic, for example. You use your hands every day. But you had an infection in one hand that required a surgical procedure, and the surgeon made a mistake that caused permanent nerve damage. You can no longer perform the duties required of a mechanic.
So, rather than return to your previous job, you might need to take a different position, one that doesn’t pay nearly as much. Loss of earning capacity damages account for the difference between the amount you would have made and what you’ll probably end up making.
This can be a fairly difficult form of damages to prove, so your attorney will probably bring in an expert in your field to show just how much money you’ll likely lose.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
You might not be able to play tennis any longer because of the actions of a negligent doctor, or you can no longer take walks around the neighborhood. If you can no longer pursue the activities you love, that will be factored into your compensation as well. It takes a very skilled attorney to be able to place a dollar amount on your loss of enjoyment of life since it’s so subjective.
Physical and Mental Pain and Suffering
People who suffer severe injuries not only go through a great deal of physical pain, but they also often times experience a substantial amount of mental pain as well. Physical pain and suffering damages address the discomfort you’ve already endured and will likely experience in the future as well. Mental pain and suffering is a byproduct of your physical injury. You may be going through emotional distress, anger, anxiety, or even fear.
As with all non-economic damages, physical and mental pain and suffering can be difficult for an inexperienced attorney to be able to quantify. That won’t be an issue when you choose a lawyer who has a deep understanding of how to do exactly that.
Disfigurement and Scarring
These injuries can also result in a great deal of emotional trauma. A victim may feel humiliated or embarrassed and can experience a complete loss of self-esteem. They may lose relationships due to not only their physical appearance but any mental issues that develop as a result of their injury.
Punitive damages are separate from economic and non-economic damages. They’re designed to punish the negligent party for committing a particularly egregious form of negligence. Punitive damages in a medical malpractice case could be awarded, but there must be proof that a doctor or other medical professional purposely caused harm.
Florida law places limits on punitive damages. The plaintiff can either receive $500,000 or three times their “compensatory” (economic and non-economic) damages – whichever is higher.
It’s important to note, however, that punitive damages are extremely rare.
How Long do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
You have two years from the date the harm took place – or you discovered you had been harmed – to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you wait any longer, you won’t be able to take legal action. In reality, though, you should act as soon as possible so that your attorney can conduct a thorough investigation and gather the facts needed to prove your case.
Contact KMW to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh attorneys have a long track record of success in helping clients recover damages in a medical malpractice case. See what we may be able to do for you by calling (561) 295-5825 or using our online form to schedule a free consultation.