When people are the victims of medical negligence, they are entitled to financial payment, called “damages,” to help compensate them for their losses. The legal system recognizes two types of damages: economic and non-economic. In basic terms, this refers to repayment to the victims for the hard costs of expenses due to the negligent event (economic) and the compensation for things that are hard to put a price tag upon, such as pain and suffering (non-economic).
In cases of medical negligence, such as nursing home abuse or neglect, birth injuries, or other forms of medical malpractice, the amount of money that the law firm can recover in damages can be determined through negotiation, such as mediation, arbitration or settlement, or through litigation. The ultimate amount of the compensatory damages depends on the type of situation and the two ways it might impact the victim and/or their family: 1) economic damages and 2) non-economic damages.
Economic damages are based on financial losses that can be calculated, such as existing hospital bills. However, depending on the nature of the injury, the victim might be at the just the beginning of many years of medical bills, injury-related expenses, and other financial losses. A skilled law firm will help the client by ensuring they receive economic restitution not just for their current medical bills, but also for their future expenses and economic losses. A skilled law firm will have a lifecare planning expert, a professional who is respected by the legal system for their ability to accurately estimate the full picture of costs that an injured person will encounter.
Economic damages include, but are not limited to:
- Medical bills. The medical bills that one might receive after a devastating medical incident can be staggering. However, that is nothing compared to the cost of follow-up care and prescription medication, especially in a long-term injury. A good law firm takes into consideration not only past medical bills but the future cost of ongoing medical expenses, including medications.
- If there is a serious injury, especially one with a long-term or permanent disability, there could be therapeutic options to help regain physical function or to help improve the quality of life with the disability. This could include multiple years of occupational therapy, physical rehabilitation, and psychological therapy, among others.
- Medical equipment. Depending on the nature of the injury, the victim could require medical equipment. A common example would be mobility equipment, like wheelchairs, for people who need help getting around due to their injury. A skilled attorney realizes that a victim of negligence might need to consider the cost of replacing this equipment over the lifespan of the equipment and the individual. For instance, people who are permanently disabled would expect to need to pay for multiple wheelchairs in their lifetime, as older ones need to be replaced.
- Injury related accommodations. Depending on the needs of the injured person, there could be expensive accommodations to help them live an independent and satisfying life. This could mean building ramps at their home to help them navigate areas where there are steps, chair lifts, and wheelchair accessible vehicles. These damages should also factor in the long-term replacement costs.
- Lost wages & earning potential. A victim of negligence could be unable to work for a short time, for a span of time, or even permanently. Some might be able to work again, but not in the field they were once employed. A competent law firm will help ensure that person gets compensated for not only lost wages during recovery, but also for the loss of future earning potential if there is a long-term injury. Some injuries require around-the-clock assistance from family members to help with daily activities or t0 provide transportation to medical appointments. This might force this family member to drastically reduce their hours or dedicate themselves to homecare full-time. These lost wages can also be recovered.
Non-economic damages are harder to quantify because they are based on things, such as trauma and psychological experiences, which cannot be calculated in dollars and cents. This is often referred to as pain and suffering, but it goes beyond that. Non-economic damages can mean emotional distress, a loss of enjoyment of life or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There can be permanent disfiguration that diminishes a person’s sense of self-worth, relationships, and joy. No amount of money can compensate the victims for these types of losses, but these damages can often be the largest part of the settlement. They also represent a strong deterrent to the negligent medical professionals, medical facilities, and nursing homes to encourage better care for future recipients
Sometimes, economic damages are awarded without non-economic damages, and in other situations, both kinds of compensatory damages are awarded to the victims.
Ensuring Quality of Life
The details of the individual case, along with the expertise of the law firm, will determine the value of damages received by the victim. If you or a loved one sustained catastrophic injuries or was killed, and you suspect it was caused by the negligence of medical professional, medical facility, or nursing home in the State of Maryland or Washington, D.C., call (410) 698-1717 or contact Brown & Barron online today.