When a client files a claim for malpractice, it is the medical malpractice attorney’s job to secure him or her damages for the pain and suffering which resulted from a doctor’s negligence. In cases of death, the attorney attempts to college damages for the family of the deceased. This can be a complicated procedure, as malpractice laws and regulations, particularly the statute of limitations, may vary from state to state.
There are two types of damages available to victims of medical malpractice. A successful malpractice attorney may be able to secure the client both compensatory, as well as punitive, damages. Compensatory damages serve to financially compensate victims of medical malpractice for their own financial losses or damages that may have resulted from the incident. The client may be entitled to compensation for a whole host of medical bills both past and future, including hospitalization, surgery or therapy. The client may also be compensated for pain or suffering resulting from the malpractice. This might include any deformity or disfigurement, as well as physical or mental impairment.
Punitive damages refer to money recovered to make an example of the doctor in question. These awards are not meant to compensate the victim, but more to punish the defendant and hopefully deter him or her (as well as the profession) from future misconduct. Punitive damages are more difficult to recover, as the malpractice attorney must prove obvious, reckless disregard for the safety of a patient. The doctor must have knowingly engaged in inappropriate dangerous behavior for punitive damages to be recovered.
Medical malpractice attorneys must be aware of the specific medical malpractice “statute of limitations” governing the state in which the incident occurred, before addressing each malpractice case. The statute of limitations refers to the length of time one can legally wait before filing a claim for medical malpractice. These lengths vary from state to state so it is important for both the client and the malpractice attorney to be aware of their individual state laws governing medical malpractice.
Oftentimes, in cases where malpractice attorneys are successful is producing compensatory and punitive damages for a client, malpractice payouts can reach into the millions or dollars, depending on how profound the suffering of the victim is determined to be. Obviously then it is in a victim’s best interest to procure a medical malpractice attorney who is well-versed in the malpractice laws of the state where he or she resides.