In a medical malpractice lawsuit, a successful plaintiff may be compensated for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical costs and compensation for lost wages. Non-economic damages are for losses that are hard to quantify, such as loss of the ability to biologically have children, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and disfigurement, among many others. Most states have a cap on how much in non-economic damages can be awarded. New York State does not have a cap, and so medical malpractice insurance rates can be higher to cover larger awards.
Some argue that non-economic damages caps create a “caste” system because generally women and children most often receive the majority of their compensation as non-economic damages. If an injured individual has lost wages or medical bills, those are straightforward and can easily be calculated. On the other hand, the amount of pain and suffering, or the loss of the ability to bear a child, is much more difficult to evaluate. Women and children often receive large amounts in non-economic damages because of the type of injury they suffered. For example, if a child is a victim of medical malpractice and has brain damage, or some type of permanent disfigurement, a jury can look at the lifetime effects that injury will have on the child’s quality of life. Without a cap on damages, the child is supposed to receive enough in non-economic damages to cover his or her lifetime. In states which have a cap, the same child would only be able to receive a set amount. In capped states, a child is put at a disadvantage because they will receive the same amount of damages as someone much older, but in general will live much longer and need more of an award.
New York State has taken an innovative approach to the future health care costs of infant plaintiffs who suffer birth-related neurological injuries. In 2011, it established the Medical Indemnity Fund, which purports to cover the future costs of such plaintiffs’ health care on an as-needed basis.
If you have been injured due to a doctor or hospital’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney is vital in protecting your rights. Contact the dedicated, experienced attorneys at Alegria & Barovick LLP for the representation you deserve. Call (914) 761-1133.