Damages in Irvine Medical Malpractice Cases

The damages that can be awarded in an Irvine medical malpractice case include a number of different categories of which the medical malpractice victim is entitled to claim. This includes the medical expenses incurred to correct the medical malpractice conduct of a particular healthcare practitioner, as well as further medical treatment or hospitalization to resolve the problem and medical issues that were caused by the negligent conduct of the initial healthcare practitioner.

In addition, the pain, suffering, and emotional distress sustained by the medical malpractice victim is another category of damages that may be available. This includes the physical pain and suffering, as well as the emotional pain and distress caused by a particular medical malpractice conduct. If a patient is required to have further surgery or endure additional hospitalization due to the negligent conduct of a healthcare practitioner, the actual pain and suffering and emotional distress endured by the client can be claimed.

Statute of Limitations

There are very specific statute of limitations deadlines in Irvine, California regarding medical malpractice cases. Although each case has to be analyzed on its own individual facts, the potential medical malpractice client should keep in mind that a particular case can be limited to one year from the date of the prospective medical malpractice conduct.

However, if a government entity or agency runs a particular hospital or clinic, the potential statute of limitations could be as short as six months. Each case is different which is why it is exceedingly important to seek appropriate advice from an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible regarding any particular case.

Damage Caps

In California, there was a specialized statute called the Medical Injury Compensation Recovery Act (MICRA). This is an archaic statute enacted in approximately 1975 which places a cap or ceiling on the non-economic damages of the medical malpractice victim at $250,000. This means that for the general damages of pain and suffering and emotional distress, the maximum that a medical malpractice victim can recover in California is $250,000.

This is exceedingly egregious when you have an elderly individual or young person who does not have a substantial loss of earnings claim. This means that the medical malpractice victim is limited to $250,000 even if the physician performs a surgery on the wrong body part or took out the wrong organ.

However, the cap does not apply to economic damages which would include the loss of earnings and potential further medical expenses that the patient needs in order to rectify the injuries or damages inflicted upon them.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are damages over and above general compensatory damages. The purpose is to punish or deter wrongful reckless conduct. Punitive damages can be exceedingly difficult to claim and prove in a medical malpractice case.

There is a specialized statute in California that does not allow a medical malpractice plaintiff to even claim punitive damages in a complaint unless a motion is brought before the court indicating that there is sufficient evidence that the healthcare practitioner has actually engaged in punitive damage conduct. However, each case has to be analyzed on its own individual facts, and punitive damages can be awarded if there is a conscious disregard for the rights or safety of the particular patient.

In addition, punitive damages are generally not covered by professional liability insurance coverage. This means that any punitive damages that would be assessed against a healthcare provider would have to be paid by that particular individual personally.