Damages: "Damages are fundamental to any medical malpractice case in North Carolina. An essential part of any medical malpractice case is showing that you were injured by the negligence of a health care provider..."
Damages are fundamental to any medical malpractice case in North Carolina. An essential part of any medical malpractice case is showing that you were injured by the negligence of a health care provider. In addition, the extent of your damages are an important factor to consider when deciding whether to pursue a claim against your health care provider.
Damages in a civil action are classified as either economic or non-economic damages.
Economic damages include various specific monetary damages. Medical expenses are normally a large part of these economic damages. Your medical expenses are determined by what was paid to medical providers for treatment related to your injuries. Previously, medical expenses included the total billed for treatment; however, the North Carolina legislature recently amended the rules to state that only the amounts actually paid for the medical treatments were to be included in these damages. As such, the reduction in the bills negotiated by your insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid is no longer included in the calculation. Many clients believe that their medical expenses are determined by what they paid out-of-pocket for treatment related to their injuries; however, the true determination is the total amount that was paid to those medical providers. This includes what your insurance, Medicare or Medicaid paid on your behalf to the medical providers.
In addition, economic damages include lost wages, calculated as both your lost past and future earnings. This includes wages lost if you did or will need to miss work due to ongoing treatment, if you were or are unable to work for an extended period, or if you became totally disabled from your employment as a result of a health care provider’s negligence.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are those damages that, while very real, did not cause a specific monetary loss to you. These include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, societal embarrassment, loss of a body part, extensive scarring, and other similar damages. While no money can compensate you for these damages they must be quantified at some point during a claim. If your case proceeds to trial a jury or judge will determine the monetary value of these damages. It is important to note that the North Carolina legislature recently placed a cap on non-economic damages in the amount of $500,000.00. As a result, no matter how severe and permanent your non-economic damages, you cannot receive more than the cap from a judge or jury in compensation for them.
It is important that you understand the extent of your injuries in order to have a realistic understanding of any potential compensation you may receive at trial or as a settlement offer. At The Rawlings Law Firm we can review your damages and, combined with an understanding of North Carolina law and jury results, discuss with you what damages you may be able to recover.