If you have been injured as a result of someone else's negligence, you may be eligible for compensation by way of a personal injury claim. The same is true with regard to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. This article will discuss restrictions related to medical malpractice damage caps, how they work and why they matter.
When a patient suffers some form of injury as a result of substandard medical care, a health care professional or care facility may be liable for medical malpractice. If you intend on filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible party, it is important to understand how the laws of your state may affect your case. One of the most important threshold issues is whether or not your state lawmakers have put in place a statutory cap on medical malpractice damages. According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, the term damages refers to "the sum of money the law imposes for a breach of some duty or violation of some right".Ě One lawyer stated that, "damages is a term used to capture all of the losses suffered and incurred by the patient, they are in fact a component of any medical malpractice claim whether it is to do with misdiagnosis, error during a procedure or negligent action or failure to act at the hands of a healthcare provider." Damages often include things like:
The cost of additional medical treatment, past and/or future), rehabilitation and other necessary care due to the malpractice
Lost income and diminished earning capacity caused by the malpractice
Pain and suffering associated with the malpractice and its impact on the patient
Loss of enjoyment of life and other more subjective personal impacts of the malpractice
Damage caps†is a law that places a limit on the amount of compensation that a plaintiff can receive from the at fault party in a civil lawsuit. In most cases damage caps are a set dollar figure amount.¬†With regard to a medical malpractice case the damage caps apply once the injured person has received a court judgement saying that the healthcare provider is liable for the harm that resulted from the medical malpractice. It must be noted that a damages cap only comes into play after the plaintiff has filed a lawsuit, a trial has been held and a jury has decided that the plaintiff has successfully proved that the health care provider committed medical malpractice. Generally, the jury is allowed to consider the facts of the case and award the plaintiff whatever dollar amount they deem appropriate. However, if that amount exceeds the statutory damages cap then the judge will reduce the jury's award to bring it in line with that law.
It should be noted that not all states have passed a statutory law for damages caps with regard to medical malpractice. However, a considerable number of states have put such laws in place in order to dissuade the filing of malicious medical malpractice lawsuits and stop skyrocketing costs of healthcare professionals' liability insurance. The state of Alaska passed laws that limit or cap the amount of compensation medical malpractice cases can receive after a successful lawsuit. Alaska has a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case. The cap bumps up to $400,000 for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases involving wrongful death or severe permanent physical impairment that is over 70% debilitating.
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