Leesburg, Florida medical malpractice lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, discusses recent appellate ruling holding that a client's pre-injury life expectancy must be used when determining a client's loss of future earning capacity.
A discussion of this concept requires a step back and a general look at Damages that are allowed in injury cases. Compensatory damages in a personal injury or medical malpractice case includes economic damages and non-economic (pain and suffering) damages. Lost wages or loss of a client's ability to earn money in the future is called Loss of Future Earning Capacity.
The recent case of Estrada v. Mercy Hospital, Inc. is a failure to timely diagnose breast cancer case based on a radiologist's failure to report microcalcifications on a mammogram. Because the microcalcifications were not reported, the patient's cancer was not diagnosed until 2 ½ years later, and by the time it was diagnosed, the cancer had progressed to Stage 3C. Both sides of the case agreed that the patient had a decreased life expectancy.
Post-Injury Life Expectancy versus Pre-Injury Life Expectancy
Mercy Hospital wanted the arbitrators in this case to take the patient's post injury life expectancy into account when deciding her loss of the ability to earn income in the future. This calculation was considerably less than if the arbitrators would use the patient's pre-injury life expectancy. The arbitrators agreed with Mercy Hospital and awarded the patient $365,000 in future loss of earning capacity. The patient appealed and the Third District Court of Appeal disagreed with the arbitrators findings. The Third District looked at how other states handled this issue and ruled:
The patient's damages for loss of future earning capacity must be based upon her pre-injury life expectancy.
This is an important concept to understand in failure to timely diagnose medical malpractice cases or other personal injury cases where the injury shortens the client's life expectancy. The difference between these two positions can be thousands of dollars in compensation.
If you have any questions about a Florida medical malpractice or personal injury claim, you can call me directly on my cell phone at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.