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Damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice claims

Medical errors can take a considerable toll on victims and their families emotionally, physically and financially. For instance, let's consider a situation in which a doctor fails to accurately diagnose someone with a heart condition.

Untreated, that condition can get worse and worse. If treatment is ordered, it may do more harm than good if it causes other symptoms without treating the original condition. Meanwhile, the person can be unable to work and take care of themselves thanks to their condition, which only makes it hard to cover the cost of additional and/or unnecessary medical care. Because of the considerable toll this can take on people, it can be crucial to understand the options for seeking damages in a medical malpractice claim.

Generally speaking, there are two types of damages that are available in medical malpractice claims: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages refer to those that can be specifically calculated. This could include medical bills, lost wages, the cost of rehabilitation or assistance programs and property loss or repair expenses. 

Non-economic damages include those that are not so easily calculated. This includes pain and suffering, humiliation, mental anguish, emotional distress and loss of consortium. While these damages can often be quite considerable, South Carolina laws cap these damages at $350,000, though there are exceptions.

There is a third type of damage: punitive damages. However, these are not awarded often, as they are in place only to penalize parties who have acted with "willful, wanton, or reckless conduct." 

Considering the various types of damages that may be available in a medical malpractice claim, it can be wise for victims and their families to discuss their options with an attorney familiar with these cases. In some cases, negotiating a settlement may be in a person's best interest; in others, taking the matter to court to seek maximum compensation may be appropriate. Consulting an attorney can help you understand the process and your legal rights.

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