When a doctor commits medical malpractice, the patient may be entitled to damages. Under South Carolina law, however, there is a cap on the amount of damages a patient can receive in a medical malpractice claim.
There are two general types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to financial losses the patient incurred as a result of the injury. Examples of economic damages include past and future medical expenses, lost income, and reduced earning capacity. There is no cap or limit on economic damages.
On the other hand, South Carolina law mandates a cap on non-economic damages. Non-economic damages refer to other types of damages for things like emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life as a result of the injury, and pain and suffering. Unlike economic damages, which are relatively easier to calculate, non-economic damages are more subjective. Juries are encouraged to award what they believe is fair, though the judge can later modify that award based on the cap.
The cap on non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case against a single medical provider or institution is $350,000. If judgment is entered against more than one medical provider, the total amount of non-economic damages cannot exceed $1.05 million, though no single provider can be required to pay more than $350,000 of that total.
While it may not seem fair to limit damages for an injured patient, the main reason that damages caps exist is to help avoid medical costs from spiraling out of control. If there was no limit on damages, medical providers could be ordered to pay millions of dollars to patients. Ultimately, these costs would be passed down to consumers.
Were you injured as a result of a medical procedure? You may be entitled to economic or non-economic damages. An experienced attorney may help you determine whether you have a medical malpractice claim, as it depends on the facts of your case.