Stethoscope and gavel, representing medical malpractice

Damages Available in a Medical Malpractice Case

A medical malpractice claim allows a person who has been harmed by medical negligence to seek compensation for the losses they have sustained. A victim of substandard medical care can needlessly suffer permanent, painful, and debilitating health consequences all because a doctor or other medical professional failed to provide them with the level of care they deserved. That is why the law allows the patient to seek monetary reimbursement for economic and other losses incurred as a result of negligence on the behalf of a treating health care provider.

What damages are available in medical malpractice cases?

The main focus on damage awards in a medical malpractice case is compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are intended to make the plaintiff “whole” again after the financial, physical, and mental harm they have suffered due to medical negligence. Compensatory damages include economic damages that are easily quantifiable such as:

  • Cost of medical care
  • Cost of future medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity

Non-economic compensatory damages are those damages that are difficult to quantify. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering. They also include emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life.

There is no cap on medical malpractice damages in Pennsylvania. This means there is no limit on the amount of compensation available to a plaintiff for both economic and non-economic damages. Other states do have caps in place and it sometimes forces a plaintiff to decide whether or not it is financially feasible to bring a medical malpractice claim. This is true even when the medical negligence is clear and even when the harm suffered by the plaintiff is supported by solid evidence. This is why legislatively imposed caps on medical malpractice damage claims are often controversial.

There is, however, a cap on punitive damages. It is exceedingly rare, however, for punitive damages to be awarded in medical malpractice cases. This cap can only be avoided if the plaintiff can demonstrate that the defendant medical professional intentionally caused him or her harm. If punitive damages are awarded, Pennsylvania caps them at three times the amount of actual damages awarded in the case. In addition to the cap, it is also important to note that 25 percent of the punitive damages award is given to the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Fund.

In addition to being familiar with the types of damages available in a medical malpractice case, you should also be aware that Pennsylvania has a periodic payments rule that applies in cases where future damages exceed $100,000. Future damages include those damages that will be incurred in the future due to the harm that resulted from medical malpractice. It includes things like the cost of future medical treatment and physical therapy. When a future damages award is over $100,000, it is required to be paid in installments.

Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Attorneys

The law allows victims of medical malpractice to seek compensation intended to set things as right as they can possibly be. The dedicated medical malpractice attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy are committed to fighting for our clients and their legal right to compensation for the harm they have suffered due to negligence on the part of a medical professional. Contact us today.