What is considered when calculating damages for a Medical Malpractice case

“I tell every client that it would be nice if I could say to them ‘I will have your problem solved within six months.’

But first, I need to have a good understanding of what the eventual result of the medical negligence is going to be on the person in front of me. Medical malpractice is not a case where you can rush to judgment; it really is a more considered case where I have to establish exactly what the impact of the injury is going to be on the person, how that might affect their income, their long-term health, their employment, their marriage, their children. We have to bring all that together for trial in order to plead the case effectively.

“The initial negligence is just like the pebble that has been dropped into the pool. In fact, it’s not a pebble, it’s really a rock. Most people don’t fully appreciate how big a rock was just dropped in their life’s pool because it has tremendous ramifications for their future. It affects their ability to help their kids go to school, university or pursue their careers; it affects their own personal careers; it affects their relationship with their spouses. In many instances, they don’t fully appreciate the impact of an injury like this.

“The amount of damages is a very flexible, personal problem that has to be solved. It is not a generic: everyone with a broken arm doesn’t get the same amount. It is an individual evaluation of whether the person with the broken arm was going on to be a concert violinist or a hockey player or somebody who needed two functioning arms. These types of analyses require a number of experts to look at my client and try to forecast what the future is going to be with the damages that they have suffered.

“The analysis starts with medical experts about the medical problem. It then goes to medical experts dealing with the clients and how these problems might affect them in their lives going forward; psychologically and socially. We also have to bring in accountants, actuaries, people who can help in terms of rehabilitation of what long-term costs might represent. We have many, many experts in Canada who are occupational therapists by training who assist me in cases and tell me exactly what a person will need for the rest of his life with five year, ten year changes and the services that will be needed over the person’s lifetime. Actuaries give me the present value of a whole stream of future payments. So, if a person made $100,000 a year, it’s not just a case of multiplying that figure by a number of years. There is a significant computer analysis to do that. We need to know what that future income is worth today. These analyses also apply to future care costs, and future training. These are the experts that a Medical Malpractice lawyer will take before the court to tell the court what a case is worth.”

If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with Personal injury law issues in the Toronto, Ontario Region, contact Strype Barristers LLP.

This article is taken from a July 4, 2007 interview with Jeff Strype LL.B., Personal Injury Lawyer with Strype Barristers LLP in Toronto , a Personal Injury Law Firm.

Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.