Patients literally put their lives in the hands of medical care providers, trusting that these professionals will give them the best care they can. When doctors and other care providers fail them, negligently causing patients injury, the injured may hold them accountable through a medical malpractice claim. However, there are some serious hurdles that can get in the way of the injured recovering the full amount of compensation they need.
The goal of any personal injury lawsuit is to compensate the injured for the damages they suffered as a result of the injury. In a typical personal injury lawsuit involving a car accident, for instance, damages might include the injured party’s medical and rehabilitative expenses related to their injury, as well as the wages they lost during the time they were unable to return to work. Calculating these damages can be complicated, especially in cases involving permanent injuries that will require a lifetime of medical expenses and other damages.
Medical malpractice claims can raise complications of their own when calculating damages. For example, imagine a case in which a patient suffered injury because their doctor misdiagnosed their condition. Because the real condition was not diagnosed in time, the condition worsened and became much harder to treat. As a result, the patient faced much higher damages than they would have, had the doctor given the correct diagnosis earlier. In such a case, the injured patient might calculate their damages by estimating the increase in their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages they suffered as a result of the misdiagnosis.
Damages cap declared unconstitutional
The complications of medical malpractice can make it harder to calculate damages, but there is some good news for injured patients and their families.
Until fairly recently, Georgia law placed a cap on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, essentially prohibiting awards of more than $350,000 in medical malpractice cases. That law was ruled unconstitutional under state law in 2010. Since then, the state legislature has considered reviving the limitation in some form, but currently there is no such damages cap in Georgia law.
Considering the high cost of medical care today, this is good news for those who have been injured due to medical malpractice. When damages include years of medical care, lost wages and other costs, the ultimate price tag can easily reach beyond $350,000.