A plaintiff in a medical malpractice action can recover economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages. If the injury will take further treatment to repair or is permanent in nature, the plaintiff may receive an award for future medical expenses and lost income. There is no limit to the amount, but any award must be based on documented spending and realistic projections.
A plaintiff is also entitled to recover noneconomic damages for pain and suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. When Alaska adopted tort reform, the legislature placed caps on noneconomic damages. The limit is $400,000 or the plaintiff`s life expectancy in years multiplied by $8,000, whichever is greater, and $250,000 for other injuries.
A court can also award punitive damages, but only if the defendant’s conduct in causing the injury was truly outrageous. Punitive damages are limited to three times the compensatory damages (economic plus noneconomic) or $500,000, whichever is greater. But, if the plaintiff hoped to profit by acting outrageously and knew the possible consequences to the patient, the limit soars to $7 million.