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Medical malpractice and pain and suffering compensation

When you go under the knife, the last thing you want is for something to go wrong. Fortunately, the consequences doctors face for such a lapse are often severe, so the precautions they take verge on the extreme. Still, medical malpractice happens, and should you fall victim to it, the effects could be lasting and painful.

While the medical expenses that stem from an occurrence of malpractice can be easily quantifiable, the lifetime of pain and suffering are often not. In the state of New York, you could be eligible for what are aptly called "pain and suffering" damages as a form of reimbursement.

What exactly are pain and suffering damages?

Pain and suffering damages mainly account for two factors:

  • Emotional distress, which can include anxiety, depression, insomnia or other mental symptoms.
  • Lasting physical pain stemming from the incident.

These are sometimes called "non-economic" damages, and are meant to compensate you in the event that your life has been irreparably changed due to medical malpractice. New York is one of the few states that do not limit these types of damages. Hypothetically a jury could rule that any amount is reasonable.

How does a judge or jury calculate pain and suffering damages?

Because they aim to compensate for things that are difficult to put a price on, pain and suffering damages can be tricky to calculate. Typically, a judge or jury will weigh a few aspects of the case in order to arrive at a figure:

  • How will the injury affect the afflicted in the long term?
  • What will the effects be for the party at home?
  • Is the party facing an altered work life?

These, among other questions, are likely to enter a judge's or jury's thought process prior to the awarding of damages. Because medical malpractice cases are inherently complicated - particularly when pain and suffering damages enter the fray - it can be beneficial to seek legal counsel. The aftermath of a medical malpractice accident is often a stressful, painful time, and the guidance of an experienced attorney may prove instrumental to ultimately obtaining the compensation you deserve.

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