Medical Malpractice

What Is Pain and Suffering in a Medical Malpractice Case?

You may have heard the terms “pain” and “suffering” in association with a medical malpractice case. But what do they actually mean? How are they quantified according to law? To shed some light on this topic, the experienced medical malpractice attorneys are Prochaska, Howell and Prochaska are here to uncover how these simple terms can dramatically affect the outcome and settlement associated with a medical malpractice case.

What is pain and suffering?

These terms are used to define the mental and physical hardship that a plaintiff endures as a result of injury. It is simply a component of the plaintiff’s compensation, which in conjunction with cost of medical treatment and lost income, creates total damages.

What causes pain and suffering?

Disfigurement, permanent loss or loss of function, or the ability to enjoy life’s pleasures can all lead to the mental and emotional pain of the plaintiff. Typically, these are due to medical malpractice on the part of the doctor or hospital.

How is it calculated?

There are many factors, including the plaintiff’s embarrassment or depression as a result of disfigurement and their demographic – age, occupation, etc. For example, a 70-year-old man may not receive the same verdict for facial disfigurement as a teenage girl or aspiring model. Each case is calculated by their own specific factors and how malpractice will affect the path of their life going forward.

What damages are available to those affected?

“Special damages” – hospital bills, loss of income, out-of-pocket expenses, etc. – are easily calculated. But “general damages” – pain and suffering – are not quantifiable in a precise, mathematical way. Therefore, damages for pain and suffering are subjective. It is the job of the judge or jury to decide what is reasonable. The jury will typically pull from their own life experiences and consider if the plaintiff seems credible and sympathetic. This means that damages for pain and suffering can vary dramatically from case to case, even if the underlying injury is the same. Also important to mention are the laws, per state, in place to “cap” damages for pain and suffering. For example, the state of Kansas places a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages for each plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit. That means, regardless of the specifics of any one particular case, the damages paid for pain and suffering alone shall not exceed $250,000.

 

What should you do if you feel you have a case?

Contact a defense team who specializes in medical malpractice. Experience is your best chance at the best outcome. Prochaska, Howell and Prochaska have decades of knowledge and practical skill in the field of medical malpractice. Their in-depth understanding of the intricacies of pain and suffering will help guide your case to the best possible resolution. Contact Prochaska, Howell and Prochaska today for more information regarding medical malpractice.


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