Earlier this month, a Georgia state court awarded a $6.7 million judgment in a
medical malpractice suit involving a man whose intestine was punctured during a hernia operation.
The resulting injuries ended the man’s career as a millworker and
forced his wife to give up her job in order to care for him. The award
was divided among the couple, with the husband receiving $5.2 million
and the wife receiving $1.5 million.
In early 2002, Thomas Jackson underwent a four hour hernia operation. The
presiding surgeon perforated the outer layer of Jackson’s small
intestine during the course of the operation. Because the surgeon did
not believe that the cut was deep enough to cause a leak, he did not take
steps to repair it during the surgery. The leak was discovered several
weeks later. During the time that had elapsed since the perforation, Jackson
developed a serious infection; his organs began to fail and he required
a ventilator in order to breath.
Jackson was forced to undergo four additional surgeries. He was bedridden
in a hospital intensive care unit for over six months, sustaining deep
bed sores and contractions in his legs which left them permanently bent.
Despite over two and half years of physical therapy, Jackson continues
to experience limited mobility in his legs and requires a wheelchair.
Prior to his surgery, Jackson worked 12 hour days as a millworker. In
his free time, he used to garden, build metal sculptures, and weld.
In December 2003, the Jacksons filed a medical malpractice suit against
the presiding surgeon, his employer, the hospital where the surgery was
performed as well as, the physician in charge of the hospital’s
intensive care unit. The Jacksons reached a settlement with the hospital
and a jury determined that the supervising physician was not liable for
the medical error. However, the jury did find the surgeon and his employer
liable and awarded the couple a $6.7 million judgment.
Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases
If you are injured as a result of medical error and prevail on a medical
malpractice claim, you may be entitled to a monetary award for your injuries
and losses. The amount of your award will be decided by a judge or jury,
depending on the circumstances of your case. There are three distinct
types of damages that you may receive: compensatory damages, non-economic
damages, and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are a monetary award which recoups the injured party for financial losses
and expenses resulting from the injury. Compensatory damages include medical
costs as well as, lost wages. A compensatory damage award covers both
the cost of past expenses, in addition to, anticipated expenses.
Non-economic damages are a monetary award which compensates the injured party for non-tangible
losses. This includes pain and suffering, mental anguish, anxiety, scarring,
loss of companionship, and other similar losses associated with the injury.
Punitive damages are a monetary award imposed to punish the healthcare professional and
other defendants for their negligent actions. In Georgia punitive damages
may only be collected in circumstances where clear and convincing evidence
shows that the defendant’s negligent treatment of the patient was
willful, committed with malice, or fraudulent.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, you should
contact an attorney immediately.