Jill Kolodner | July 15, 2020 | Medical Malpractice
We trust our doctors and medical provider to provide medical treatment, care, and comfort during a time of great need. We trust that they will help us heal and recover from illnesses, injuries, and conditions. What we do not expect is for them to make us worse.
Sadly, medical malpractice claims are more common than many people realize. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers make mistakes and medical errors. Instances of medical negligence and intentional wrongdoing are also common.
Medical errors and negligence can cause severe injuries and trauma for a patient. In some cases, a patient may never recover fully from the injuries caused by medical malpractice. For some families, medical malpractice results in wrongful death.
The state has placed caps on certain damages recoverable for damages caused by a medical error or medical negligence.
What are the Caps on Medical Malpractice Claims in Maryland?
The caps on medical malpractice claims in Maryland only apply to pain and suffering damages. Economic or financial damages are not capped. The cap on pain and suffering damages increases each year.
The current cap for pain and suffering damages in a medical malpractice case is $830,000 as of January 1, 2020. The cap applies to all claims stemming from the same medical injury. In medical malpractice cases that involve a wrongful death with two or more beneficiaries, the cap on pain and suffering damages increases to $1,037,500.
What are Damages in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Damages in a medical malpractice claim typically fall into two categories — economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic Damages in Medical Malpractice Claims
Economic damages include the financial losses and expenses incurred by the patient because of medical negligence. Financial damages are not limited in a medical malpractice claim.
Examples of economic damages in a medical malpractice claim include:
- past and future medical expenses, including the cost of all necessary and reasonable medical treatment and personal care costs
- past and future loss of income and benefits
- decreases in earning capacity or earning potential
You must prove that the financial loss is directly related to the medical malpractice claim. In other words, you need medical proof that you were unable to work during the time you claim a loss of income. You must also prove how much money you would have earned had you been able to work.
In many cases, we retain medical experts and financial professionals to assist in calculating the value of economic damages. Our goal is to maximize the value of these damages to ensure that you receive full reimbursement for your economic losses associated with the malpractice claim.
Non-Economic Damages in Medical Malpractice Claims
Non-economic damages are often referred to as a patient’s “pain and suffering.” These are the damages that are subject to the medical malpractice caps.
Pain and suffering damages include:
- physical pain
- emotional suffering
- disability and impairment
- scarring and disfigurement
- loss of enjoyment of life
In wrongful death claims, it also includes loss of companionship, love, support, protection, care, and guidance.
The amount you may receive for damages in a medical malpractice claim depends on the unique facts of the case. Even though damages may be capped, a Baltimore personal injury lawyer can help you maximize the damages to receive as much as possible for an injury claim.
Proving Medical Malpractice Claims
Claims of medical malpractice can be challenging to prove. You must prove that the doctor was negligent in failing to provide the standard of care set by the medical community. Generally, proving a medical malpractice claim requires employing one or more medical experts to define and explain the standard of care.
Examples of medical errors and negligence that might result in a claim include, but are not limited to:
- failing to perform diagnostic tests
- prescribing or giving the wrong medication
- operating on the wrong surgical site
- leaving something inside a patient during surgery
- failing to timely and correct diagnose a patient
- premature discharge from the hospital and inadequate follow-up care
- failing to monitor a patient after surgical procedures or other procedures
- using defective medical equipment and failing to sanitize and maintain medical equipment
- a delayed diagnosis that results in additional injuries
- failing to obtain informed consent from a patient
- mistakes during labor and delivery
In addition to proving the doctor breached the duty of care through negligence or errors, you must also prove the breach caused your injury. A doctor may make a mistake, but he is not guilty of medical malpractice unless the mistake causes an injury and damages. An attorney uses medical experts to link the malpractice to the injury to recover compensation for the claim.