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Are there damage caps in medical negligence cases?

As this blog has discussed previously, Massachusetts residents are entitled to receive compensation if their doctor's errors cause them to experience worsened symptoms or, in some cases, further injury their bodies. A Worcester resident can seek out this compensation by submitting a medical malpractice claim and, if that fails, filing suit for damages.

However, like other states, Massachusetts has a damages cap that limits the amount of money an injured patient is actually able to recover, despite what a jury says following a trial. Fortunately, Massachusetts residents can recover all of their "special damages," which are line item actual costs like medical expenses and lost income.

However, in many cases, an injured patient can only expect to recover at the most $500,000 for non-economic or "general" damages, the most familiar of which is probably compensation for pain and suffering. Even if a jury wants to award more, the judge is bound by state law and will only award $500,000.

There is an exception to this rule, and that is when medical malpractice has left a patient disfigured or unable to perform an important "bodily function," which can mean being unable to walk as well or something more subtle. A patient can also point to other "special circumstances" which show that in their case, it would be unjust to cap the general damages at $500,000.

Of course, an exception to the general rule is on the injured victim to prove should a case go to court, and negligent parties and their insurance companies will be less than eager to pay more than the $500,000 the law requires, assuming they even agree to the $500,000 amount. This is one reason why a person pursuing a personal injury claim may want the services of an experienced accident and personal injury attorney.

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