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What are punitive damages in an Ohio medical malpractice claim?

Punitive damages are awarded in a case as a way to punish someone who has committed a crime and to deter the defendant from committing the act again. These damages are only awarded in certain situations, and most states have limitations on the amount that can be paid and when this type of compensation is appropriate.

Up until 1994 in Ohio, a medical malpractice attorney could only pursue punitive damages for the victim if the doctor’s negligence directly caused harm. Then, Chris Mellino and his former partner took misdiagnosis case Moskovitz v. Mt. Sinai to the state’s Supreme Court, which determined that a doctor who’d altered medical records “exhibited a total disregard for the law and the rights of Mrs. Moskovitz and her family.” From that ruling forward, Ohioans in a similar situation could pursue punitive damages, but it is important to note that these damages are not intended to compensate the victim. They are purely to punish the wrongdoer.

In most cases, the plaintiff must prove that the healthcare provider engaged in gross negligence or intentionally acted in a malicious way. In the realm of medical malpractice, this can include:

  • Misdiagnosis or wrong diagnosis;
  • Surgical errors, such as wrong-site surgery or improper technique;
  • Hospital-acquired infections;
  • Prescription or medication errors; and
  • Disfigurement.

If you have questions about medical malpractice, attorney Chris Mellino welcomes you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation. You may also download or request Chris’ free, easy-to-read guide to filing a claim in Ohio.

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