Medical Malpractice Damages: What Compensation Can You Expect?
When faced with a medical malpractice case, one of the many questions that likely come to mind is, “What kind of compensation can I expect?” Understanding the types of damages that may be available can offer some clarity during an otherwise tumultuous time. In this blog, we will break down the different types of medical malpractice damages under South Carolina law, and what you might expect if your claim is successful.
Categories of Damages
Broadly speaking, damages in a medical malpractice case can be divided into three main categories:
These are quantifiable financial losses incurred because of the medical malpractice incident. They include:
- Medical Expenses: Current and future costs of medical care, including hospitalization, surgery, medication, and any rehabilitative therapy.
- Lost Wages: Compensation for income lost due to an inability to work while recovering, as well as future loss of earning capacity if you are unable to return to work in the same capacity.
These are less tangible and more subjective, but nonetheless impactful. They can include:
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the physical and emotional distress caused by the malpractice.
- Loss of Consortium: If the malpractice has negatively impacted your relationship with your spouse or family, you might be compensated for this loss.
- Emotional Distress: Mental anguish or psychological trauma can also be considered.
These are less common and are awarded with the intention to punish the offending party for egregious conduct and to deter others from committing similar acts. In South Carolina, punitive damages are capped at $350,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
Special Considerations in South Carolina
The Caps on Damages
In South Carolina, there are no caps on economic damages; however, non-economic damages are capped at $350,000 per defendant and $1.05 million overall, regardless of the number of defendants. It’s important to note that these caps can be adjusted for inflation and do not apply in cases where the defendant’s conduct was reckless, willful, or grossly negligent.
The Affidavit Requirement
Before filing a medical malpractice claim in South Carolina, an affidavit from an expert witness is required to confirm that the healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care, leading to your injuries. This is intended to add a layer of validity to the claim.
Statute of Limitations
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim is generally three years from the date the injury was discovered or should have been discovered. However, there are exceptions to this rule that can either extend or shorten this period.
If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice in South Carolina, understanding the types of damages you may be eligible for can help you better navigate the complexities of your case. While no amount of money can truly compensate for the physical and emotional toll, obtaining the right damages can significantly aid in your recovery and future well-being.
Remember, each case is unique, so consult with legal professionals experienced in South Carolina medical malpractice law to determine the specifics of your situation.