Punitive Damages in Medical Malpractice situations


Not all patients who file medical malpractice lawsuits are successful in their goal of being compensated by the health care provider in the proper amount that they want. The reasons are not all those who file complaints are able to prove negligence on the part of the doctor, nurse or health care facility and the courts limit the amount of damages awarded to malpractice victims. Courts are very careful when it comes to analyzing evidence and they require the presentation of strong and concrete evidence for every case they manager.

What happens then to patients who feel they were deprived of their right to safe and proper health care? The court can grant punitive damages which are non economic in character except the compensatory damages award. However, these are only allowed in situations where the plaintiff can provide clear proof of misconduct by the health care provider involved. In other words, the plaintiff needs to establish that there was indeed an intention to cause harm or the defendant was reckless in its duty to provide safety to patients.

If you’re a patient who felt neglected while undergoing treatment in a hospital or were not given the proper medical care you were seeking during an emergency, you can consult a medical malpractice lawyer to help you understand this matter. An attorney whose specialization is in handling medical situations will be able to assist you in the legal course of action should you decide to file a lawsuit.

The goal of punitive damages is mainly to encourage reform notably in the behavior of the defendant and prevent the occurrence of the same mistake in the future. No monetary compensation will be granted in this case unlike those seeking compensatory damages.

Additionally, the court may decide to carry out punitive damages in situations where compensatory damages may not be a sufficient solution to the misconduct done by the defendant and to the personal injury suffered by the plaintiff. Courts can punish the health provider to discourage the repeat of the same misbehavior and this can be done by the granting of punitive damages.

Laws governing punitive damages vary from one state to another. States that allow this kind of damages in medical malpractice situations usually set a limit to the amount of claims that can be awarded. Many states also set a high standard for the granting of punitive damages.

Florida is one state that has a comprehensive medical malpractice bill in place. The bill provides for the implementation of reform measures such as requiring hospitals and physicians to adopt patient safety plans and inform patients when they are injured, allowing insurance firms to study malpractice situations and offer settlements, allowing the state to suspend the license of doctors who fail to pay damage awards within 30 days and requiring doctors, hospitals and insurers to provide the state with information on premium rates, medical errors and malpractice situations.

If you or a loved one becomes a victim of malpractice, the first step to take is to consult with a reputable lawyer. Cooperation and continued communication are vital to be able to file the necessary lawsuit within the allowable statute of limitations.

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