Compensation for Medical Malpractice: What to Expect

Would it shock you to learn that medical malpractice is the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S.? It’s true — and it’s also nearly unbelievable to many. With all the information readily at our disposal in this Internet age, there remains a huge lack of public knowledge about the prevalence of medical malpractice.

There are two reasons for this.

Many victims of medical malpractice have no idea that they are, in fact, victims. Statistics show 2.9 percent to 3.7 percent of all patients admitted to a hospital suffer some sort of preventable injury at the hands of negligent health care providers. Out of the 98,000 patients killed each year due to preventable medical errors, only 10,000 or so of these are filed as medical malpractice claims. The result: nobody knows that these errors ever happened.

Additionally, it’s speculated that insurance companies have influenced public opinion against those who file malpractice claims against health care providers. They have given rise to the belief that excessive verdicts against malpractice are causing malpractice insurers to raise their premiums, forcing physicians out of the medical profession.

In the end, we at Oshman & Mirisola abide by the conviction that a victim of medical negligence is entitled to the resources necessary to put his or her life back together.

How It Works

Obviously, no court can undo the damage inflicted on a patient by a negligent physician. What they can offer is an award of compensation to the victim so that he or she has the resources necessary to cover future therapy, additional procedures and sometimes adaptive equipment for carrying on with basic functions complicated by the injury.

How much money a victim is awarded depends on the value of two kinds of damages inflicted.

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Economic:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future therapy (physical and emotional)
  • Past and future medication and adaptive devices (canes, wheelchairs, prostheses, devices)
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity (when the injury will inhibit the ability to work in the future)

These are fairly easy to calculate, by means of bills or receipts. Future bills are, of course, harder to determine, especially since advances in medical technology may change the nature and expense of future care. A seasoned lawyer will often consult with experts to help predict future care expenses for the victim.

Noneconomic:

  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Inconvenience

This kind of damage is much harder to calculate, and each jury, judge, defense lawyer and insurance adjuster addresses it differently. Precedents from past cases are invaluable to malpractice lawyers in determining what kind of noneconomic damages to pursue.

Other Factors

Some states have a “damage cap” — a limit to the amount of money that a victim of medical malpractice can receive for noneconomic damage.

If a plaintiff chooses to settle with the defendant, it usually has a significant effect on the total amount of damages, since both parties are giving something up in order to reach resolution more quickly. However, a settlement is a way to play the situation safe, rather than trust your case to the unpredictable outcome of a jury trial.

Call Us Today

The law firm of Oshman & Mirisola has vast experience in handling medical malpractice cases in the states of New York and New Jersey. If you suspect you have a case for medical malpractice or negligence, call us at 800.400.8182 for a no-cost consultation, or fill out the contact form on the right side of this page.

Ted Oshman

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Ted Oshman has been with Oshman & Mirisola since 1988 serving clients for over 25 years. Learn more about Ted's background and featured practice areas here.

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