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Medical Malpractice: Economic and Non-Economic Damages

On October 13, 2016 the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Issue 4 on the ballots this year will not be counted. Issue 4 presented amendments to Arkansas’ medical injury lawsuit law. It may still appear on printed and absentee ballots because they have already been printed in advance of the elections. The court ruling determined that Issue 4, which used the term “non-economic damages,” was too technical and therefore voters would be left guessing about what their vote meant unless they were familiar with the legal term. While you will no longer be required to vote on the matter, we still want you to be informed about economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages go to pay the bills inflicted on the injured person. For medical malpractice, the damages essentially go back into the medical system which injured the individual in the first place. Economic damages also cover the costs of lost wages and future wages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are sometimes referred to as the money awarded for “pain-and-suffering” from a injury. This money is paid based on the extent that the individual’s injuries impacted their quality-of-life. A person harmed in a medical malpractice case is no longer able to enjoy their typical activities, the injuries may impact their relationships, and they may have mental anxiety as a result. These are all accounted for when a court determines the dollar amount of non-economic damages in a case. This is a subjective number and some states have enacted caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

Having maximum dollar amounts that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits is a highly contested issue throughout the United States. Several states already have caps although the actual amounts vary significantly. California law has a cap of $250,000 while eight other state Supreme Courts determined that such caps are unconstitutional. It is highly likely that Issue 4 will reappear in Arkansas in the future with a well-worded explanation of what non-economic damages are so that Arkansas residents can make an informed decision on their vote.

We Are Here to Help

As lawyers who handle medical malpractice cases, our job is to get you the best outcome after a medical injury. Damages can be tough to assess but we are here to help you estimate the worth of your case, for both economic and non-economic damages. The numbers are subjective so it is critical to have someone advocating for you and someone who understands the legal precedent for cases similar to yours. Contact the Bassett Law Firm today at 479-521-9996 if you have suffered an injury due to medical malpractice.