New Jersey is home to many fine physicians and surgeons. However, no doctor is infallible and some can be negligent or even reckless. If your doctor missed or misdiagnosed your cancer, you may be considering whether or not to file a medical malpractice claim against him or her.
A cancer misdiagnosis case can help patients become whole again by allowing them to collect compensation and damages in the form of financial rewards. This compensation acts as reimbursement for the harm – financial, emotional, physical, or mental – the person experienced as a result of this kind of medical negligence.
You also may be wondering how much your malpractice case might be worth. Every case is different, whether your missed diagnosis was for lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, or another type. However, even though there’s no exact calculator for medical negligence cases, there are several kinds of damages that all factor in to the amount of compensation you might receive.
Economic damages are the quantifiable expenses that you as a patient are facing – and will face in the future – due to the misdiagnosis of your cancer. In cases where patients were diagnosed with cancer when they didn’t actually have it, economic damages (or special damages) can be applied to the costs of unnecessary cancer treatments and procedures. In cases of delayed diagnosis, failure to diagnose, or wrong diagnosis, these damages can be applied to the additional treatment necessary to compensate for the lack of timely and appropriate treatment. And, economic damages may be applied to the costs of future treatment.
The types of special damages you might receive in your cancer misdiagnosis case can include:
- Past and future medical bills (medications, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, physical therapy, etc.)
- Lost wages due to missed work during treatment and recovery
- Transportation costs to and from treatment centers and hospitals
- Home nursing or child care from the inability to self-care or care for children
- Home modification costs (accessible rails or ramps for patients who have become impaired)
- Funeral costs, if a patient dies due to cancer misdiagnosis
General damages (or non-economic damages) refer to the less quantifiable harm you experienced as a result of your cancer misdiagnosis. The goal of general damages is to provide a financial reward as compensation for the harm inflicted on your enjoyment and quality of life. When a cancer misdiagnosis affects your physical, mental, social, and emotional well being, you’re likely entitled to general damages.
General damages for a cancer misdiagnosis case can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Depression and anxiety
- Loss of consortium/loss of a loved one
- Loss of future earning capacity
Punitive damages are much what they sounds like – financial damages given as a “punishment” to the defendant for his or her negligence. These damages are intended to act as a deterrent to the medical community in preventing similar acts of negligence and carelessness.
State laws vary regarding the particulars around punitive damages, but generally the defendant must have been aware of the potential harm caused by his or her actions. Here’s an example – a doctor could be forced to pay punitive damages if the plaintiff can successfully prove the doctor intentionally misdiagnosed a patient so he or she could make a profit from using a specific cancer pharmaceutical.
Compensation caps in New Jersey
Many states place a cap – or limit – on the amount of compensation a successful plaintiff can collect from a medical malpractice case. Typically these caps are only on general damages and not economic damages. In some states, however, the caps apply to all types of damages.
As of 2019, New Jersey law does not have a cap limiting the amount of economic damages a victim can pursue through a medical malpractice claim. New Jersey also does not have a cap limiting the amount of noneconomic damages a patient may be entitled to receive. However, New Jersey does limit the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in a medical malpractice case to $350,000 or five times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater, according to NJ Rev Stat § 2a:15-5.14 (2018).
At Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP our medical malpractice attorneys protect patients injured by cancer misdiagnosis. We will hold doctors responsible when their negligent behavior causes you harm. We have offices in Edison, Red Bank, or Toms River, New Jersey. Call us today for a consultation at 732-777-0100 or fill out our contact form.