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What damages does a medical malpractice lawsuit cover?

Experiencing a medical mistake can take a physical and emotional toll on someone and even cost lives. The Journal of Patient Safety reports that medical malpractice causes as many as 400,000 premature deaths every year, and the New England Journal of Medicine notes that one in 14 physicians will face a lawsuit related to negligence.

There are serious implications following medical errors, one of which involves finances. When a physician or other member of a medical facility makes a mistake, it can lead to an increase in treatment, longer hospital stays and worsened conditions. People who choose to file a lawsuit may find that there are several types of damages that may be recovered, including the following:

  • General damages – These damages may not be easily quantifiable but are still important. They include a loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
  • Special damages – It is easier to put a price tag on these damages, as they include medical bills and wages lost due to missed work.
  • Punitive damages – Although rare, a court may sometimes decide to punish a defendant through awarding an extra amount of money to the plaintiff.

According to California law, people have to file a lawsuit within one year from the date they find out about the injury or should have known about the injury, or three years from the date the injury occurred, whichever comes first.

In order to prove the claim, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a mistake occurred and that the error caused the injury. To obtain a financial award, the plaintiff must be able to provide evidence of the cost of the injury.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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