When a patient becomes a victim of medical negligence, they may be entitled to various types of damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Damages are the legal remedies sought by the plaintiff to compensate for the harm and losses they have suffered due to the healthcare provider's negligence. Types of damages sought by the plaintiffs in medical negligence cases include:
1. General Damages: General damages, also known as non-economic damages, are intended to compensate the plaintiff for non-monetary losses that are more difficult to quantify. These damages may include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and mental anguish. Calculating general damages can be challenging, and the factors considered include the severity and duration of the injuries and their impact on the plaintiff's quality of life.
2. Special Damages: Special damages, also known as economic damages, aim to compensate the plaintiff for quantifiable financial losses incurred as a direct result of medical negligence. These damages may include medical expenses, hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, prescription medications, and the cost of ongoing medical treatment & care. Additionally, special damages may cover past and future lost wages or loss of earning capacity due to injuries.
3. Past and Future Economic Loss: In cases where the plaintiff's ability to work and earn a living is affected by medical negligence, they may be entitled to compensation for both past & future economic losses. Past economic loss includes the income lost from the time of the injury to the time of the settlement or judgment, while future economic loss covers the anticipated income loss due to ongoing medical treatment or long-term disabilities.
4. Loss of Consortium: Loss of consortium damages may be awarded to a spouse or family member of the injured plaintiff for the loss of companionship, support, and care resulting from the medical negligence.
5. Punitive Damages: These damages are not generally or commonly awarded in Australian medical negligence cases. However, in extreme cases, courts may consider awarding exemplary damages, which are somewhat similar to punitive damages.
It's important to note that each Australian state and territory may have its own legislation and rules regarding medical negligence and plaintiff damages. The legal process and the types & amounts of damages that can be awarded may vary depending on the jurisdiction. Therefore, it is important for plaintiffs to seek legal advice from experienced medical negligence lawyers who are familiar with the laws and practices specific to their region. Medical malpractice cases must be filed within a certain timeframe, known as the statute of limitations, which is likely to vary by jurisdiction.