Doctors, nurses and other health care providers spend a great deal of time learning how to treat a great variety of illnesses and physical maladies. As a group they are professionals dedicated to helping alleviate the ailments that can plague mankind. Unfortunately, health care providers can also make mistakes. When mistakes are made the effects can be devastating. In fact, according to the National Academy of Sciences, approximately 98,000 Americans die from “medical mistakes” each year.
Medical malpractice is a form of negligence involving a medical treatment provider. If someone is injured as a result of a treatment provider’s digression from the standard of care, that treater may be liable for the injury that has occurred. The determination of whether a medical professional has met the standard of care is based on a comparison to other professionals in the same field and the same geographical region. In other words, what would a reasonably competent medical professional practicing in the same field as the defendant, and in the same area of the defendant, do under the circumstances that the defendant was facing with respect to care and treatment of the patient?
Medical malpractice does not occur every time there is a bad outcome from treatment. It is simply a duty to provide good care according to the accepted standards of the community and/or the accepted standards of a particular medical specialty. The law generally recognizes the practice of medicine as an “art” rather than as an exact science. Therefore, some latitude is given to practitioners with respect to the manner in which they choose to address the problems of specific patients.
Medical Malpractice Damages
There are two types of damages available in medical malpractice cases, compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are designed to, in a word, compensate. To the extent possible, these types of damages are meant to make the person as “whole” as possible. Generally, these damages can be broken up into two sub-categories, actual damages and general damages. Actual damages seek to reimburse a plaintiff for financial losses sustained. Actual damages typically include:
Medical and hospitalization bills incurred to treat your injuries
Wages lost due to work missed while you recuperate
Costs of household or nursing help during recovery, including costs of wheelchair or crutches required
Malpractice victims can also sue for general damages in addition to actual damages. General damages include the things that can’t be precisely documented in dollars spent, including
Pain and suffering endured due to injuries and any subsequent mental anguish
Value of medical expenses you are likely to incur in the future
Value of wages you are likely to lose in the future
Loss of consortium (benefits of a relationship)
Loss of normal life
Damages are also available in cases where the plaintiff is able to prove that he or she was not provided with proper informed consent.
Punitive damages may be awarded in certain cases. Punitive damages are not based on actual injuries sustained. Rather, they are a way to punish the defendant for intentional or grossly negligent conduct. It is fairly uncommon to see punitive damages in a medical malpractice case. However, it is not unprecedented.
If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance, call Ray Hodge & Associates at (316)269-1414. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.
Ray Hodge & Associates proudly represents victims and their families across the state of Kansas, including Wichita, Andover, Derby, Goddard, Haysville, Mulvane, Rose Hill, Newton, El Dorado and Hutchinson. Call today for a free consultation all over the state of Kansas. We have proudly served clients in Sedgwick, Butler, Sumner, Harvey, Kingman and Reno Counties.