When you first consider filing a claim for damages, you may begin wondering how much money you can receive. Most people relate this to how much they have lost due to an injury, such as the medical bills they wouldn’t have had to pay if they weren’t injured. In addition, victims can also seek out lost wages from time off work and property, but most are not even aware that lost earning capacity can be included.
However, when discussing medical malpractice claims, the types of damages can become more complicated. Because your claim is specifically related to inappropriate medical treatment, such as surgical error or misdiagnosis, you are often dealing with long-term injuries that require extensive coverage. You may also need coverage related to your original condition as well as compensation for your newfound injuries. So, how much can you demand in a medical malpractice claim?
How Insurance Adjusters View Damages
In the state of New York, compensation in an injury claim is divided into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Whereas economic covers anything that has a unique price tag, such as medical bills, non-economic can include personal costs such as physical pain and mental anguish.
With regard to economic damages, these will often make up the bulk of your medical malpractice claim. After all, your injuries are directly related to inappropriate treatment or a lack of care. You may assume economic damages are easy to account for, as you can cite bills, receipts, and invoices that are related to your injuries. While this is largely true in most claims, insurance companies will still try and minimize how much they will have to pay you in a claim.
This is because insurance adjusters have their own way of pricing out medical coverage, and they often lump certain procedures into one category rather than calculating each procedure individually. For example, if your injury required a large number of diagnostic tests but a relatively simple treatment plan, they may only really account for the diagnostic portion of your claim. In addition, if your treatment required some form of therapy, such as cognitive or physical therapy, they often see it as voluntary and will minimize the overall cost.
However, a medical malpractice claim should make you “whole again,” meaning that any damages you have suffered because of a medical professional’s error should be accounted for in your claim. This means that you should be able to recover all medical bills attributed to your injury, as well as any additional costs you incurred, such as lost wages, long-term care, and lost earning capacity.
Properly Calculating Economic Damages
When reviewing your injuries, your attorney and you will need to evaluate the overall economic costs of your injuries. This will generally include all of the medical expenses you have incurred, including:
- Diagnostic tests
- Nursing care
- Physical therapy
Alongside your medical bills, you will also need to account for other economic damages.
Lost wages typically account for the time you had to take away from work to attend doctor’s appointments, surgeries, therapy, and recovering at home. To calculate this, your attorney will review your old pay stubs to determine how much you made on average before the injury. Then they will calculate how much you would have made if you had not been injured and subtract the difference. This should account for how much money you lost while you were recovering.
However, this number may vary depending on much time you spent away from work due to your original treatment. Because you were injured by a medical professional, the amount of time you spent recovering may have increased drastically. In addition, if your doctor developed an inaccurate treatment plan that kept you from healing properly, then that time away from work should also be accounted for. Your attorney may consult your tax records to determine what your overall wages for a year would have been if you had not been injured and used this as the standard for calculating your lost wages.
Lost Earning Capacity
In some cases, your injury can lead to an overall drop in your annual income, likely due to a disability or handicap. This is often attributed to lost earning capacity, as you may not be able to work as hard as you used to. Or you may be forced to change careers, meaning your income has changed drastically because of medical negligence.
To calculate lost earning capacity, your attorney will need to look at several factors, including:
- The average wage for your profession
- Your skill level and experience
- Your education and background
- The frequency of raises, bonuses, and promotions in your career
- Your work history
This cost is harder to prove than lost wages, but not impossible. You may be forced to work with a general ballpark number rather than a clear-cut number like with lost wages.
Life Care Plans
Disabilities can also impact your overall life expectancy and long-term costs. You may need to adjust your home to deal with mobility issues, pay for prescription medication for the rest of your life, or require assistance with daily tasks. All of these costs can be included in a life car plan, which provides a general estimate of how much your injury will cost you over the rest of your life. For debilitating injuries, a life care plan can be invaluable to ensuring you are taken care of after a serious case of medical malpractice.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Medical malpractices are extremely complicated and require a thorough review to ensure every cost is included. You should not have to pay for a medical professional’s mistake. Instead, you should speak to an experienced New York medical malpractice attorney in a free consultation. Our lawyers at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, can properly evaluate the costs of your injuries so that you do not receive a low-ball settlement offer when you file a medical malpractice claim. To learn what you can recover in a claim, call us at (212) 986-7353.