What are the Most Substantial Damages Awarded in a Malpractice Settlement?
When it comes to a medical malpractice claim, the victim will be looking to pursue the recovery of both their economic damages and their non-economic damages. Recovering economic damages means they are not left out of pocket for the costs they have incurred because of the malpractice, and pursuing compensation for their non-economic damages allows them to seek financial recompense for their pain and suffering.
In the majority of cases, the compensation awarded for a victim’s pain and suffering damages will be the most substantial damages that a medical malpractice lawyer pursues on behalf of their victim.
If you have suffered an injury or further complication of a condition at the hands of a negligent medical provider, your first option should be to contact a reputable law firm that handles medical malpractice cases.
Here at Peter Angelos Law, we have been serving the state of Maryland for over 50 years, working with those who have suffered medical malpractice injuries, birth injuries, and in the most tragic cases, helping the families of victims pursue a wrongful death claim against their provider.
We work on a contingency fee basis, allowing us to take cases on for victims without the need for up-front costs or the worry of costly legal fees if they lose the case. We only take our fees from successful settlements, meaning you can pursue your case without fear.
Call us today to arrange an initial consultation and case evaluation. We can answer the important questions you may have and provide you with some free legal advice. If you wish to pursue your claim after this, we can begin right away. If not, at least you will leave the meeting better informed than before.
Call us at 410-705-2405.
The Damages That May Be Recovered in a Medical Malpractice Claim
When you have been injured due to the negligence of a medical provider, there are a range of damages that you may suffer as a result. In a successful claim or settlement, many of these damages will be recoverable. This means it is important to understand what economic damages and non-economic damages are:
Your economic damages are the specific damages that need to be compensated for financial losses a victim has suffered. These damages are usually easy to evidence as they have a physical price tag attached to them, and as long as you can provide invoices and receipts, they will be difficult to argue with.
In certain situations, there may still be the need to bring in an expert witness to provide testimony that can support a request for damages that may occur in the future, such as lost earning potential or long-term medical bills.
Here are the most common economic damages that a victim may suffer:
You will likely need to take time off work to some degree to receive treatment and recover from your injuries. Unfortunately, for many, time off work means lost wages and earnings, and this can be extremely stressful, especially for those that are the primary income in their household.
Fortunately, in successful medical malpractice claims, you may be able to recover all of your lost wages. You may need to provide your attorney with wage slips and tax returns to evidence this.
Loss of Future Earning Capacity
If the injuries you have suffered are so serious that you can never return to work in the same capacity again, your attorney may need to work with financial experts who can help them calculate what you should be compensated for to cover you for a lifetime of lost earning potential.
All the bills relating to your treatment should be recoverable in a successful claim. This includes your hospital bills, medical expenses, surgery bills, and medication costs. It is important that you keep a comprehensive record of all your treatment and costs, and it can be really beneficial for your case if you can keep a daily diary of your mood and pain levels.
Your attorney may need to work with medical experts if your injuries are going to require long-term treatment or rehabilitation costs. This will ensure that you pursue enough compensation to cover these long-term costs. This is one of the reasons why accepting early settlement may be a bad idea, as it may not accurately cover your future medical expenses. Once you have signed your acceptance of a settlement figure, you forgo the right to pursue any more compensation.
Your non-economic damages are much more difficult to calculate. These damages do not come with a guide or a formula, and there are no clear figures attached to them. This means it will be up to your attorney to decide what your non-economic damages are worth. The more experienced they are in calculating non-economic damages in similar cases to yours, the better they will be at this task.
The better they are, and the more experience they have, the more accurate they will be at assigning fair and reasonable figures to your non-economic damages, and this will make them harder to dispute by the other party.
Your non-economic damages are usually the most substantial damages of the two and this means that you need to obtain legal representation from an attorney skilled in their calculation if you want to maximize your claim.
Your non-economic damages include:
Physical Pain and Suffering
Your physical pain and suffering damages compensate you for the physical pain you have been through due to your injuries. If your injuries mean you will be in pain for a long time, your physical pain and suffering damages could be substantial.
Emotional Distress or Anguish
Being the victim of medical malpractice is emotionally traumatic and can leave victims with mental scars that they are dealing with long after they have recovered from the physical injuries. A fear of hospitals and doctors, PTSD, anxiety, depression and insomnia are common.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
If a victim has been left with long-term injuries, disabilities, disfigurement or chronic pain, they may not be able to enjoy their lives the way they used to. Loss of enjoyment of life damages can compensate a victim for these losses. This may allow for payment to a father who can no longer go fishing with his son, play catch with his daughter or ride his bicycle on the weekends following the incident.
What are the most substantial damages awarded in a medical malpractice settlement?
When it comes to your medical malpractice case, your pain and suffering damages, both emotional and physical, including any loss of enjoyment of life, will usually be the most substantial damages.
Pain and suffering damages are usually the most substantial damages in medical malpractice settlements because they are often calculated by applying a multiplier to the grand total of your economic damages.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will have a system in place that allows them to judge the severity of your pain and suffering. They will then allocate it a number based on the severity, usually between 1 and 5, and multiply your economic damages by this number.
For example, if your injuries are going to heal relatively quickly but have left you in a lot of pain while you recover, the multiplier may be a 2.
If your injuries have been painful and will take a long time to heal and have left you with scars and disfigurement, the multiplier may be a 3.
If your injuries have left you with a disability, lifelong pain, and injuries that will never heal, the multiplier may be a 5.
What Defines Medical Malpractice in Maryland
In Maryland, medical malpractice is the term given to any behavior of a medical provider that is substandard. If their behavior has breached their duty of care to their victims, and they have suffered injuries; as a result, it is medical malpractice.
This usually occurs when they have failed to follow the standards of medical malpractice they have been taught to adhere to, or they have failed to act with the due care and attention their patients deserve.
Maryland Annotated Code, Courts and Judicial Proceedings §3-2A. states:
“all claims, suits, and actions … by a person against a health care provider for medical injury allegedly suffered by the person … are subject to and shall be governed by the provisions of this act”.
In negligence cases, it must be proven that the behavior of the responsible party was not the behavior of a “reasonable” individual. If another reasonable medical provider would have acted differently in the same circumstances, then it can be argued that they acted negligently.
Four Elements to Prove in a Medical Malpractice Cases
Proving the four elements of negligence is crucial in order for your case to be valid. If your attorney cannot prove the following four elements, they may struggle to negotiate a settlement.
The first element to prove in any negligence case is that the at-fault party owed the victim a duty of care at the time of the incident. A duty of care is a legal obligation to act in a reasonable manner so that they protect the health and wellbeing of another party. You assume a duty of care whenever you get behind the wheel of your car, and business owners assume a duty of care to their customers.
All medical providers automatically assume a duty of care to their patients, making the first element a relatively straightforward one to prove when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits.
Second, you will need to be able to prove that your medical provider breached the duty of care they owed to you when the incident happened. To breach the duty of care, they have to act unreasonably. Common examples of this are deviating from standard medical practices or failing to conduct adequate monitoring.
The third element is causation, and to prove this, you must be able to prove that the breach in the duty of care led to you suffering injuries directly. This can be done by examining medical records and speaking to medical experts.
The last element to prove is that the injuries caused by the malpractice have resulted in economic and non-economic damages that need to be recovered.
Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Claim
Most states have a statute of limitations in place that place a time limit on victims to make a claim following a malpractice incident. After this time limit has elapsed, they are no longer eligible to make a claim relating to that incident.
In Maryland, you have three years from the date the malpractice injury or error occurred. If in rare cases, you do not discover the injury until later, you may have more time, but your time to bring a claim will never exceed less than 5 years from the date the injury occurred or 3 years from the date the injury was discovered.
While this does seem like a long time, you should also be aware that the sooner you involve your attorney and begin the process of pursuing a claim, the better.
Medical Malpractice FAQs
Does someone who is not satisfied with the results of his or her treatment have a viable medical malpractice claim?
Unfortunately, there are often inherent risks to a treatment or procedure. Sometimes these risks can occur even when the medical provider has followed all of the relevant practices. When this happens, the injury may not have been preventable and this means you may not have a claim against them.
To have a valid claim you will need to be able to prove that your injuries may have been preventable. To prove this you will need to prove that your provider acted negligently in some way or another.
How long do medical negligence claim cases take?
The time that a case takes to complete will depend upon a range of factors, such as the complexity, the severity of injuries, the ability of the attorneys involved, and the willingness to cooperate with the insurance company.
Can a medical malpractice case be reopened after it has been settled?
As soon as a victim signs any settlement agreement, they give up the right to pursue any further compensation relating to that incident. This is why it is always important to discuss any settlement offers with your attorney before you accept them.
How are medical negligence cases funded?
Most medical malpractice attorneys, us included, want every victim of malpractice to have the opportunity to pursue compensation. This is why we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there are no upfront costs, and if we lose your case, you do not owe us a penny.
We simply take a flat percentage from any settlement that we negotiate for you or from the damages awarded in court.
Do all medical negligence cases go to court?
Around 70% of all medical negligence cases are settled outside of the courtroom. This is because it is in neither party’s best interests to push for a court case due to their length and additional costs. If your case is strong, and you have a capable attorney behind you, your case has a good chance of settling. Sometimes the other party may simply settle because you have chosen an attorney with a reputation for winning cases in the courtroom.
However, 30% of cases do not settle, and this is why it is so important that you make sure that your attorney is a capable litigator.
Should you accept the first offer of compensation?
One of the more common insurance company tactics is to run the numbers on a case, calculating what they stand to lose, and then offer a settlement figure that is much lower. They will do this in the days or weeks following the incident In the hopes that you take the offer without considering your true long-term damages.
For this reason, we recommend that you always decline the first offer of compensation. Your attorney will likely use this first offer as the bottom level for their negotiations.
Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys May be Able to Help
At Peter Angelos Law, we understand that no one should suffer due to a medical provider’s negligence. We pay an extortionate amount for medical care in the U.S., and for the price, we should be able to expect a high level of expertise and professionalism in return.
We have successfully represented many clients in medical malpractice cases, and our lawyers are experienced advocates who will fight for you to get the justice you deserve.
We keep you informed throughout the process, providing an exceptional client-attorney relationship. Contact us today at 410-705-2405 for a free consultation.