Can You Sue a Doctor for Pain and Suffering?

If you recently suffered an injury due to medical negligence, you may wonder what type of compensation you can expect from your injury if you pursue a medical malpractice claim. Plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits generally receive economic and non-economic compensation for their damages. While economic damages are relatively easy to prove and typically rely on financial documents such as bank statements, hospital bills, or invoices for other services related to a claim, non-economic damages like pain and suffering are impossible to calculate exactly.

While you cannot directly sue a doctor solely for pain and suffering, you may receive compensation for the pain and suffering resulting from medical negligence. You must first prove that the defendant in your claim is responsible for your injury, and your West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer will help you gather the evidence necessary to prove the extent of your damages.

pain suffering and medical negligence

How do You Calculate Pain and Suffering?

It’s difficult to place monetary values on abstract concepts like pain and suffering. For many people who experience illnesses and injuries due to medical negligence, the physical pain, mental trauma, and emotional suffering related to these injuries is much worse than the economic fallout from excess medical bills and other treatment costs.

Different courts use different systems for calculating pain and suffering damages. One of the primary methods is to simply multiply the plaintiff’s claimed medical expenses by a certain number that reflects the severity of the injury. For example, a jury may decide that a man who incurred $5,000 in medical expenses for the negligent treatment of a broken arm deserves three times that amount in pain and suffering damages for a total of $15,000 in non-economic compensation. However, a case involving a plaintiff who suffered a wrongful amputation would likely involve far more substantial medical expenses and more profound long-term effects. The jury, in this case, may decide that the $25,000 in medical expenses and the scope of the plaintiff’s long-term damages are worth $150,000 or more.

Other courts may use a “per diem” system to calculate pain and suffering. This is common in cases involving medical negligence resulting in short-term disability on relatively short recovery times. For example, a man suffers an infection in his foot due to poor sterilization procedures in the operating room, but his prognosis shows he should make a full recovery within two years. The jury awards $100 per day in pain and suffering compensation until the plaintiff reaches maximum possible recovery. After 400 days in recovery, the plaintiff will have received $40,000 in pain and suffering compensation.

Pain and Suffering in My Medical Malpractice Claim

Several factors may influence the amount you receive in pain and suffering damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. A plaintiff’s credibility, demeanor, and overall likeability can potentially sway a jury’s decision. The nature of the plaintiff’s injuries is the most important factor, however. Severe injuries, disfiguring injuries, catastrophic injuries, and injuries resulting in permanent disability generally lead to the most substantial pain and suffering recovery for plaintiffs.

It’s also important to remember that many states place caps or limits on the amount plaintiffs may receive in pain and suffering compensation for medical malpractice claims. State law may limit the plaintiff’s pain and suffering compensation to $250,000, $500,000, or some other amount regardless of the extent of the plaintiff’s damages or the severity of his or her injuries.

One of the best ways you can maximize your compensation as a plaintiff in a medical malpractice claim is to act quickly once you are able to secure legal representation. Your West Virginia personal injury attorney will help ensure your claim meets the applicable statute of limitations for your state and he or she should fully investigate every potential avenue of compensation in your claim.