When you head to a hospital, doctor’s office, or operating room, you expect to get flawless assistance from an expert in the field of healthcare. As medical patients, we are often quick to place complete trust in the hands of medical professionals. We often view doctors as infallible robots, perfectly trained to do their jobs. However, doctors are human, too.
As we know, humans make mistakes. Like the rest of us, doctors are prone to physical, psychological, or familial pressures. When doctors are distracted or affected by personal or professional pressures, they are more likely to cut corners, forget steps, or make careless mistakes. Unfortunately, these mistakes can be devastating to the lives of others. Because of the serious consequences that medical malpractice can have, the law gives victims ample opportunity to seek compensation.
A variety of damages are available to medical malpractice victims who take legal action to redress their losses. Medical malpractice plaintiffs typically seek compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are intended to make the victim “whole” again, and can be either economic or noneconomic. Economic damages compensate victims for financial expenses actually incurred due to the malpractice. This could include medical bills, physical therapy or lost wages due to inability to work. Noneconomic damages cover hard-to-quantify losses such as pain and suffering or loss of consortium. In a few medical malpractice lawsuits, punitive damages may be awarded. While most medical malpractice claims deal with mere negligence or carelessness, when the court finds extremely substandard or malicious conduct on the part of a medical professional or facility, it may award punitive damages.