Economic and Non-Economic Damages in Virginia Medical Malpractice Cases

Both economic and non-economic damages are often involved in Virginia medical malpractice cases. Contact a professional medical malpractice attorney today to acquire legal counseling on medical malpractice and what economic and non-economic damages in a malpractice case are available.

Economic Damages

Economic damages in Virginia medical malpractice cases include money an individual loses as a result of their medical malpractice case. This may include money for things like medical bills and lost wages, which are the most common types of economic damages.

Economic damages may be both present, meaning the person has already incurred medical bills and lost wages, or they may be future, meaning they may come up again in the future as the case continues to unfold.

There are a variety of ways that people determine economic damages. Generally, they relate to special damages, which refer to medical bills. For example, if it is a wrongful death case, damages would be funeral arrangements, lost wages, future loss, and the loss earning capacity if the person is permanently injured.

Economic Damages Calculated

Economic damages in Virginia medical malpractice cases are calculated most notably by looking at medical bills, records, lost wages, statements, and things of that nature in trying to determine how a person’s damages would readily be calculated.

Usually, it is easy to say that economic damages are those that can be quantified, meaning that they can be calculated. They may be medical bills. A person may be able to look at past W-2s and other income statements related to a person’s prior (inaudible) date. It also includes future calculable damages that may require expert witnesses, including future costs and future medical bills, future housing if a special house is required, and cost of living if the person is unable or limited in their work capacity.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages include everything that is not economic damages. Non-economic damages are the pain and suffering attached to Virginia medical malpractice cases. These damages are often difficult to quantify.

The term ‘pain and suffering’ is often tossed out because no one knows the individual’s pain and suffering except for themselves and those around them.

That is where an experienced medical malpractice injury attorney gets involved. They will try to understand what the injured party went through and what their family went through in assessing how this malpractice has affected them on a personal and intimate level.

Non-Economic Damages Calculated

Quantifying noneconomic damages is where an experienced, quality medical malpractice attorneys is needed. By making a person’s story translatable and story come to life, they can help their clients make a maximum recovery.

Insurance adjusters and their attorneys try to use past similar cases, other tables and actuary charts, and other related ideas to try to determine what non-economic damages might be. They try to prove that this person was unable to do what they normally did for a certain set period of time, multiply that by a certain injury factor, and try to come back with a number.

Typically, the non-economic damages are where the insurance company or the defense attorney and the injured party’s attorney are the most likely to miscalculate.

Caps on economic and non-economic damages

Caps on economic and non-economic damages exist to limit liability. Tort reform or a cap is a way for the insurance industry to ensure that they do not give someone who is injured ability and knowledge. What they are doing is limiting their liability for their insured person when they commit a wrongdoing.

Virginia has certain medical malpractice non-economic damages caps and punitive damages caps. Those can be found in the Virginia Code, and they vary on a yearly basis. They are set to expire sometime around 2030 and the General Assembly will have to adapt a new figure.

Why These Caps Exist

The caps exist because the insurance companies have a strong lobby that they have allowed the legislature in Virginia, called the General Assembly, to place caps on damages under the perception that there will be so-called runaway juries or runaway verdicts that will ruin the economic system.

In reality, the caps limit the insured person and allow insurance companies to offer their services at a premium without the exposure above a certain amount of money. Therefore, the insurance company’s actuary cables, also known as risk tables, determine how much policy should cost and what risk factors should lead to what premiums.

Circumventing Caps on Economic and Non-Economic Damages

While there are no caps on economic damages, for non-economic and punitive damages, a skilled medical malpractice attorney can try to circumvent caps by bringing in multiple parties, working with different insurance providers to try to get different sources of coverage, and seeking to explore different options in the calculation of damages.

Parties Involved

The person that calculates non-economic damages in a Virginia medical malpractice case depends on what the procedural posture of the case is. If this is a settlement, the parties are calculating non-economic damages and can use them as part of the negotiation process. If this is a trial posture, the jury or the judge, has the job of deciding what the non-economic damages are.

They have some guidance by expert witnesses, depending on the specific facts of the case. It is a difficult job for fact finders to determine how to apply non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case. Contact a Virginia medical malpractice attorney for more information.