When you or someone you love has been injured as a result of negligence by a doctor, hospital, or another medical professional, you are entitled to pursue compensation, also known as “damages.” There are two types of damages that a plaintiff in a medical malpractice action may recover, called compensatory damages and punitive damages. In this article, we will thoroughly examine both compensatory and punitive damages, and discuss how they may be relevant to your medical malpractice case in New Jersey. For a free legal consultation about your potential to recover damages for medical negligence, contact Fronzuto Law Group with local offices in Woodland Park, NJ. Our firm represents victims in Passaic County, Morris County, Essex County, Bergen County, Hudson County, and throughout New Jersey. We are available around the clock to provide you with a free case review.
As reflected in the name, compensatory damages are meant to compensate a victim, or plaintiff, who asserts a medical malpractice claim. The goal of compensatory damages is to make a person “whole,” or as they were prior to the incident at issue in the lawsuit. Of course, compensatory damages can never truly compensate for the physical pain, emotional stress, or trauma of a serious injury. They do, however, provide some form of justice and rectification to the victim. Compensatory damages can be further divided into two categories: (1) actual damages (which are economic); and (2) general damages (which are non-economic).
The goal for actual damages is to reimburse a plaintiff for financial losses incurred. Actual damages often include: medical expenses (medical/hospital bills incurred to treat injuries), lost wages or income (resulting from work missed while an injury heals), rehabilitation, or life adjustment costs (household /nursing help required during recovery, including devices such as crutches or a wheelchair).
A plaintiff asserting a medical malpractice claim may also seek general damages (in addition to actual damages), which concern items that cannot be assigned a specific dollar amount. General damages may be awarded when a plaintiff experiences significant, continuous pain and suffering. Pain and suffering resulting from an injury includes mental anguish. Following an injury from medical malpractice, a claimant may also seek reimbursement for: future medical expenses likely to be incurred, future lost wages; and/or loss of consortium (loss of benefits of a relationship).
In some instances, punitive damages, also referred to as exemplary damages, may be awarded. These damages are not related to actual injuries sustained. Rather, they are a way to punish the medical professional for grossly negligent or intentional conduct that injured the plaintiff. An example of a situation in which punitive damages may be imposed is when a victim can prove that (s)he did not provide informed consent (i.e. from a surgeon prior to operating, or anesthesiologist before consenting to anesthesia before a procedure). Other medical malpractice cases which have resulted in punitive damage awards include: misrepresentation about a surgery, improper performance of a surgery; improper administration of anesthesia; manipulation of medical records; and failure to perform required tests to establish health of a child.
Are You Entitled to Damages for Medical Malpractice in NJ? Free Legal Consultation
If you or someone you love may be entitled to medical malpractice damages resulting from some form of negligence by a physician or medical facility, contact our New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers to receive a cost-free consultation and learn more about your available legal options.