In a medical malpractice claim, damages are determined based on a number of economic and noneconomic factors. Economic damages refer to funds that are awarded to the plaintiff as compensation for direct monetary loss and expenses that were incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence. These damages also cover funds that the plaintiff is likely to incur in the future.
For example, if a patient is seriously injured and permanently disabled, economic damages would include not only any treatments he or she is currently undergoing, but also those that may be required for the remainder of his or her life.
Noneconomic damages, or non-pecuniary losses, apply to those things that cannot be summed up to a specific dollar amount but that cause unquantifiable harm, including:
- pain and suffering;
- emotional duress;
- mental anguish;
- psychological trauma;
- loss of consortium; and
- loss of the enjoyment of life.
In some instances, punitive damages may be leveled against the medical professional. These are rare, however, because the plaintiff must prove that the doctor knew what he or she was doing was wrong, such as using the wrong medication because it’s less expensive for the hospital or intentionally making a small mistake such as a perforation to necessitate another surgery.
Some states cap the maximum amount of damages that a patient can recoup. Ohio law caps (or limits) a medical malpractice claim at $250,000 or three times the amount of the plaintiff’s economic damages (maximum: $350,000). When loss of life, limb, or deformity is involved, the cap increases to $500,000.
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 Chris’ free guide to filing a claim in Ohio.