When a medical procedure goes wrong, it can be devastating. Not only do most people place a lot of trust in medical professionals and facilities, but they also may end up in far worse health than before. You may feel damaged, both physically and emotionally, after an incident that you suspect was medical malpractice. If you should decide to pursue a case in court, the term damages will take on a new, legal meaning. To find out more about that way of looking at damages, read on.
This category of medical malpractice damage encompasses the way the incident has impacted your mental state. You might never be able to trust a medical professional again, for example. That can lead to a reluctance to seek medical treatment when it could save your life. It may mean you seek treatment but must deal with crippling anxiety while doing so. Unfortunately, medical malpractice issues don't only affect the victim. The family members of the victim may have suffered in an untold manner because of the incident. General damages is an attempt to help the victim recover money damages for the impact on their mental state that resulted in anxiety, fear, anger, depression, and more.
The category applies to very specific damages that can be linked to a dollar amount. You might consider this category to be an attempt to reimburse victims for expenses they would not have incurred but for medical malpractice. That can include things like travel expenses, legal costs of seeking compensation, lost wages from a job, and more. Any financial losses that can be directly linked to the incident of medical malpractice would fall into this category.
The above two damage categories are common, and your medical malpractice lawyer will ask for them in the lawsuit. Punitive damages, though, are not mentioned in the lawsuit at all. That is because it is up to the judge and jury to impose this form of damage. To be paid punitive damages, the case has to rise to the level of egregious and negligent harm done to a victim. This might be a case in which the doctor or facility failed to protect a patient in such a manner that the action demonstrates a willful disregard for human life. It might be a case that the court seeks to gain publicity or make an example of too. Punitive damages often result in making big changes in practices such as having the patient mark their own bodies before surgery or having a system of counting surgical implements before the patient is closed up.
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, speak to a personal injury lawyer that practices this specialized type of law.