Find Out How Juries Decide How Much to Award in Malpractice Cases


In an earlier entry, we shared information about when medical malpractice lawsuits are appropriate. In this issue, we’ll tell you how juries calculate how much to award victims.

Defining the Damages in a Medical Malpractice Case

Typically, damages in a medical malpractice case come in the form of compensation – or money. There are two types of damages: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages are fairly easy to calculate, as they include losses like medical bills, lost wages, costs of medicine and other treatment (therapy), etc.

The non-economic damages are a bit more difficult to nail down as they address issues like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.

What’s the Limit on Damages That Can Be Awarded in Medical Malpractice Case?

There are a host of states that have placed caps on the amount of damages that a victim can recover in a medical malpractice case.

While some place a cap on all damages, others do not. For example, California has set a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages but no cap on economic damages.

States that have no limits on what can be awarded are:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Calculating the Costs of Pain and Suffering

Even though they’re difficult to calculate, physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress and the loss of enjoyment of life must be offset by compensation.

Typically, if the victim is viewed as honest and likeable by the jury, the compensation will be higher.

The loss of consortium is a term used to provide compensation to the victim’s family. In essence, it means that an injured person (the victim) is unable to provide family members with the same love, comfort or companionship that was normal prior to the injury.

Calculating Costs for Earning Potential (Future Loss of Income)

Putting a figure to the economic damages can be a little hairy when considering the decrease in the victim’s earning potential.

If the victim was unemployed at the time of the incident, the defense attorney will likely make a strong argument that there’s no claim for lost earnings.

It’s much easier to calculate the earning potential of a salaried person than someone self-employed.

Determining Costs for Past and Future Medical Treatment

Because cases involving medical malpractice often result in victims requiring specialized medical care and treatment for the rest of their lives, a medical economist specialist will calculate the anticipated costs of providing care, and provide them to a jury.

Damages in the millions of dollars are common in cases involving serious injuries.

If You’ve Experienced Medical Malpractice, Call The Fitzgerald Law Firm

We’re passionate about protecting the rights of those who’ve been injured by others. Since our firm’s founding in 1971, we’ve helped victims of medical malpractice recover over $1 billion in assistance.

If you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, you definitely need the skilled expertise of a legal professional who can advise and guide you through the process.

Call us here at The Fitzgerald Law Firm. The first consultation is always free, so call us at 800-323-9900.