If you are injured due to negligence on the part of your healthcare provider,
you may file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible healthcare
professional and in some cases, other parties, including the hospital
where you received medical care. If you prevail, you may be entitled to
a monetary award for your injuries and losses. Your monetary award may
be decided by a judge or jury, depending on the circumstances of your case.
You may be entitled to distinct types of damages.
There are three distinct types of damages that you may receive if you prevail
on a medical malpractice claim: 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.
In 2005, Georgia passed a law which capped the amount of
non-economic damages that an injured party could receive in a medical malpractice case. The
legislation capped non-economic damages to $350,000 when the case involved
a single liable healthcare provider. In circumstances where more than
one healthcare facility was found liable, the non-economic damage cap
was raised to $700,000. Under the law, the total non-economic damage award
could not exceed $1.05 million. However, in 2010, the Georgia Supreme
Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional.
Non-economic damages can be more challenging to prove than compensatory
damages because their value is more subjective and therefore, open to
greater interpretation and discretion by the judge or jury. For this reason,
it is important to hire an attorney who has experience proving non-economic
damages to a judge or jury in order to successfully present your case.
Punitive damages are a monetary award which are imposed to punish the healthcare
professional and other defendants for their negligent actions. Georgia
law limits the circumstances where punitive damages may be awarded. 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 have been the victim of medical malpractice, you
should contact an attorney immediately. An attorney will be able to review
the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable medical
malpractice claim against your healthcare provider, the hospital where
you received treatment, or another party. If so, your attorney can help
you through the process of filing a medical malpractice claim and ensuring
that you receive appropriate compensation for your losses and injuries.