A 36-year-old man was left paralyzed from the chest down due to medical malpractice, as determined by a Colorado medical malpractice jury that awarded him $10 million for the noneconomic damages that he sustained as a result of medical negligence after a three-week trial. The total medical malpractice jury verdict was $15 million, which was the largest Colorado medical malpractice verdict. The medical malpractice defendants included a local Colorado hospital and an emergency room physician that the jury found to have committed medical malpractice. However, the hospital had settled the medical malpractice claims against it before the trial.
The man went to the hospital emergency room with complaints of severe neck pain and with numbness in his arms and legs. The emergency room physician diagnosed the man as having a neck strain and discharged the man to home. The emergency room physician failed to properly and timely diagnose the man’s true serious medical condition: a herniated disk that was compressing his spinal cord and causing progressive neurological injury. At home, the man became completely paralyzed within a few hours. He returned back to the same emergency room from which he had been discharged only hours earlier, where he was left unattended and untreated for almost two hours.
This Colorado medical malpractice case is a good example of why arbitrary statutory caps (limits) on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases are unfair and unjust. If the Colorado man had suffered similar injuries due to negligence that was not medical negligence (such as a result of a motor vehicle accident), the Colorado medical malpractice noneconomic damages cap would not have applied — the cap only applies in medical malpractice cases, which shifts the responsibility for damages caused by negligence away from the wrongdoer and punishes the innocent victim of medical malpractice for having been injured by a negligent doctor as opposed to a negligent driver.
The emergency room physician was found by the Colorado medical malpractice jury to have caused the 36-year-old man’s catastrophic and permanent injuries that could have been avoided if the physician simply had provided that level of emergency medical care that he was educated and trained to provide and that other emergency room physicians would have competently provided to the patient under the same circumstances — why should the innocent victim of the Colorado physician’s medical incompetence be subjected to further injustice by receiving only 3% of the amount of damages that the jury of his peers determined to be the fair and just compensation for his unimaginable injuries?
Why should Colorado medical providers (and medical providers in other states who enjoy similar substantial economic benefits from caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases) be granted special rights and privileges not enjoyed by any other special interest group when they unnecessarily harm others due to their negligence or incompetence?
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of possible medical malpractice in Colorado or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Colorado medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may be able to investigate your possible medical malpractice claim for you and file a medical malpractice claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
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