One of the most important things that happens in any medical malpractice case is the damage calculation. In any case, there are multiple parts. Proving the malpractice is an issue in itself, but coming up with the financial damage for a judgment is another thing that the plaintiff’s attorney will focus his efforts on. In some cases, this can be the most important thing, as the damage awards in a medical malpractice case can be quite large. When millions of dollars are potentially switching hands, it goes without saying that the attorneys in play are going to spend a lot of time figuring out the particulars. So how do you calculate the financial damage? There are many parts.
Past medical and consequential costs
The first step of the equation is showing an accounting of the costs that have already been incurred. This includes any sort of medical cost that one might have incurred by going to the hospital or going through surgery. It also includes the costs associated with caring for a victim. Anything that can be documented with receipts or bills is fair game as long as the medical malpractice directly caused the damage. These are often the simplest costs to prove. Because past costs are clearly documented and require little speculation, they are usually taken at face value int he absence of complicating circumstances.
Future medical costs
Things get a little bit trickier when you start talking about future medical costs. This requires the parties and the jury to speculate on what it will take to treat the victim in the future. To figure this out, the parties will usually call in medical experts who can give testimony on the type of things that a person will need to survive and thrive down the road. The parties and the law also seems to understand that nothing can be perfect, so the goal is to get it right as much as possible. In addition, the court will often discount these future costs to their present value, meaning that a victim will get the future cost discounted by a certain interest rate that the court determines a person could get by investing the money. This varies by state.
Other types of damage
The financial award will also include other types of damage that are not so easily quantifiable. The court will attempt to put a dollar figure on the pain and suffering that one has gone through and will go through. Likewise, the court will also put a dollar amount on the loss of enjoyment of certain parts of life. This is a difficult thing to do, but a monetary award is all the court can hand out. Likewise, there will be calculations for loss of past income and loss of future income. Determining this requires one to speculate at the type of work a person would have done.