The practice of medicine is as much an art as it is a science. Doctors are highly educated and trained to diagnose and treat medical conditions and injuries. But figuring out what’s wrong and the best way to correct it isn’t always a straightforward process.
Most doctors and other medical providers do the best they can. But as in any profession, there are careless, poorly trained, and reckless individuals. When you encounter one of these providers, you’re the one who may suffer as a result of their negligent care. Your condition could go undiagnosed, get worse, or you might suffer a new injury.
When you believe you’ve been the victim of medical negligence, it’s essential you talk with an experienced Hawaii medical malpractice lawyer. As part of his review and consultation, Matt Menzer will explain Hawaii’s medical malpractice claim process and medical malpractice damages.
Medical Malpractice Compensation
When you’ve been injured by a healthcare provider’s negligence, the effects on your life can be widespread and devastating. Many people suffer financially after medical malpractice. They require additional, costly medical treatment and are out of work longer, or in some cases, permanently.
The financial and economic repercussions are compounded by the physical and emotional pain and trauma you have experienced. All of these various injuries are compensable as either economic or non-economic / general damages. The distinction between the two types of damages is important in regard to medical malpractice damage caps in Hawaii.
Your economic damages are made up of the costs and losses you can prove arose from your medical malpractice injuries, including:
- Medical bills
- Future medical care and services
- Travel to and from medical care
- Lost earnings
- Future lost income or earning capacity
- Home renovations
- Medical devices and supplies
- At-home care
- Occupational rehabilitation
We calculate these kinds of economic damages based on your records, such as medical bills, past wages, travel records, and receipts, and sometimes through the opinion of experts such as doctors, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and life care planners. Economic damages are generally firm numbers, based upon objective facts.
Non-Economic / General Damages
The trickier types of damages to calculate is your non-economic damages. Hawaii defines non-economic damages in Hawaii Revised Statutes §663-8.5 as including:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (personal, family and spousal relationships)
- Other non-pecuniary losses
These types of damages are more subjective and won’t generally be based on hard data or numbers. Instead, these damages are influenced by a number of factors, including the severity of your injuries; how those injuries have impacted your daily life, hobbies, and interests; the amount of verifiable pain you’ve endured, and whether you suffered emotionally or psychologically as a result of your injuries.
What Are Damage Caps?
A factor that greatly influences how much compensation you can receive is a damage cap. Some states, including Hawaii place limitations on how much compensation you can win in certain kinds of cases.
Damage caps might be for a specific type of claim, such as medical malpractice or product liability case. They also might be for specific types of damages, such as non-economic damages only.
There are no medical malpractice caps in 21 states and Washington, D.C., according to the Center for Justice and Democracy at the New York Law School. In eight states, caps have been found unconstitutional.
Six states have limits for all medical malpractice damages, and 24 states have caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.
Medical Malpractice Damage Caps in Hawaii
Hawaii places a limitation on pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases. Under Hawaii Revised Statutes §663-8.7, damages recoverable for pain and suffering, defined in §663-8.5, is limited to a maximum award of $375,000.
Pain and suffering is specifically defined as the actual physical pain and suffering you experience as a proximate result of a physical injury. This means your pain has to be connected to your physical injuries and not entirely separate from them.
Obtaining the Maximum Compensation Possible
When you have a valid medical malpractice claim, you want to work with a lawyer who will fight for the maximum compensation possible. This includes compensation for all of your economic damages. There is no limit in Hawaii to how much you can recover for your actual economic losses and expenses. It also includes receiving a maximum of $375,000 for your pain and suffering.
To maximize your medical malpractice compensation, you must establish the severity of your injuries. This requires a detailed review of your medical records and often the testimony of multiple expert witnesses. Matt, through his decades of experience litigating medical malpractice cases, has access to the high-quality medical and economic experts that are needed to successfully resolve these cases.
Visual aids can be very important if your case goes before a jury. If your injuries are visible or at least have a visible component, we might recommend taking groups of photos as you recover.
Another potential visual aid in the most serious cases is a Day in the Life Video. We’ll work with a videographer, and with you and your family, to record what a normal day is like for you with your injuries. This is especially important if you’ve sustained physical limitations or disabilities because of the medical provider’s negligence.
The jury will also hear directly from you and the people close to you who have witnessed t what you’ve experienced. No one can prove your pain and suffering as you and your loved ones can.
Talk with Menzer Law Firm About Your Medical Malpractice Damages
Many factors influence the amount of compensation that you will receive for your medical malpractice injuries. One of those factors is Hawaii’s pain and suffering damage cap. Talk with Matt Menzer about pursuing the maximum compensation for your pain and suffering and other injuries. You can reach out through our online form or call 808-400-3726.