The way that damages are structured in Toronto medical malpractice cases is fairly similar to any other personal injury cases in Toronto. The primary categories are general and special damages.
To understand the damages available to you in your medical malpractice case, it is imperative that you consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. A Toronto medical malpractice lawyer can build a case to help recover the damages you may be entitled to.
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Types of Damages
There are two types of damages available in Toronto medical malpractice cases. Depending on the facts specific to the case, an individual may be able to recover one or both of these types of damages.
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Special damages in Toronto medical malpractice cases refers to economic losses incurred up until the date where a resolution in the matter is obtained, that can be specifically proved.
For example, if a person, as a result of being injured by medical malpractice, requires ongoing attendant care, then the cost of that care, as it is incurred up until the point where the matter is resolved, would be considered part of the special damages intended to directly compensate for the value of the losses that a plaintiff sustained in financial terms.
In Toronto medical malpractice cases, general damages refer to those which cannot be objectively quantified. The first head of general damages is what is called non-pecuniary general damages. This refers to pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is going to be a significant element of any medical negligence claim — people seek medical treatment because they obviously have a need for the positive outcome that they believe it will provide.
The damages available for pain and suffering are intended to put a person in the position that they had a right to expect to be in if they had not suffered the harm, but are limited to restoring the person to their original position.
For example, if a person is undergoing an invasive surgical procedure to solve a chronic pain problem and as a result of that procedure, that person subsequently is harmed, it is only the harm caused by the procedure itself that would be compensable with non-pecuniary general damages for pain and suffering. These damages can only put the person in the position they were in before they were harmed by the wrongfully acting party.
The other major head of general damages is what is called pecuniary damages: these refer to economic losses incurred that a person cannot objectively quantify but that nonetheless form a part of the losses in the case.
For example, if a child is injured due to the negligence on the part of the doctor who delivered them, and that child subsequently is never going to be able to live a normal life in terms of joining the workforce, earning a living, so on and so forth, then ultimately, a lawyer is going to have to project a reasonable number in terms of the general damages that will be available to them to encompass what their lifetime earnings would be had they been able to live a normal life, and get a normal job, had they not suffered that harm.
Likewise, the cost of future care that will prospectively be incurred would be included under this head of damages.
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Aggravated and Punitive Damages
There are also two additional kinds of damages that are a part of a Toronto medical malpractice case: aggravated damages and punitive damages.
Aggravated damages are an extra head of general damages available in respect of some particularly harmful impact on a plaintiff that cannot otherwise be compensated by the other heads of damages. For example, disfigurements may make available aggravated damages in terms of some of the psychological harm a person may suffer throughout their life and whatever stigma may be associated with that.
Punitive damages are intended to punish intentionally bad conduct on the part of the defendants. For example, in a medical malpractice case, any kind of intentional harm rendered by a doctor would classify. There are cases where doctors have abused and molested patients. This is particularly reprehensible conduct that the court seeks to punish and would be the subject of punitive damages. Punitive damages are only granted very rarely in Toronto medical malpractice cases.