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Suing a Hospital for Pain and Suffering

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

When suing a hospital or a doctor, you usually seek to recover past and future medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses. But you can also seek compensation for pain and suffering. Generally, a person can pursue a claim for pain and suffering when they are injured due to negligence and experience either pain or suffering, individually or combined.

Pain and suffering compensation is essentially what it sounds like. If a person experiences physical pain, or suffers mentally from things like stress, anxiety, or depression, and the pain and/or suffering can be attributed to a compensable injury, then money can be awarded for it.

Suing a Hospital

When pursuing a claim against a doctor or hospital specifically, there may be "caps on damages." This means that if a jury awards $10 million for pain and suffering in a medical malpractice case, a judge may be required by law to reduce that award to $250,000 or $500,000. These limits on non-economic damages vary from state and state, and will not always apply. Frequently catastrophic injuries, such as paralysis, brain injuries, or severe injuries to children, are allowed a higher limit. However, the caps do not generally apply to the portion of a monetary award meant for past and future medical care, lost income, or other financial losses.

Another common issue that arises when filing a lawsuit against a hospital involves the claim filing requirements. In many jurisdictions, before you can file a medical malpractice or hospital negligence lawsuit, a plaintiff may be required to provide notice, or retain a medical expert.

Quantifying Pain and Suffering

When it comes to figuring out how much pain and suffering is worth in an injury claim, there is no magic formula. Often, things like emotional distress, mental anguish, or life disruption, defy monetary quantification, and can become points of contention.

Alternatively, the amount of pain and suffering a person experiences can be valued based on the amount, frequency, and duration, of medical care, treatment, or medication, the person needs to recover and get by. Additionally, permanent injuries, including disfigurements, or severe injuries that upend a person's life, will often correspond to higher awards for pain and suffering.

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