Once you've decided to file a lawsuit over health problems linked to hernia mesh, one of your biggest questions likely has to do with the value of your case. How do you put a dollar figure on complications stemming from a defective mesh implant or botched hernia mesh surgery? What kinds of losses will be covered in a settlement or court award? (For the answer to another common question asked by hernia mesh claimants, learn more about how long a hernia mesh lawsuit might take.)
Figuring out the value of any injury-related case starts with determining the nature and extent of the injured person's "damages," and a hernia mesh claim is no different. "Damages" means money paid to the injured person (the plaintiff in the lawsuit) by the person or entity responsible for the harm (the defendant in the lawsuit). Whether your hernia mesh case settles out of court or you receive a judgment in your favor after a trial, the compensation (money) you receive can be thought of as "damages." (Learn more about the basics of damages in a personal injury case.)
Let's look at the different kinds of losses that make up your damages, and how each might affect the value of a hernia mesh lawsuit.
Cost of Past and Future Medical Care
Any medical care you've received as a result of your hernia mesh complications, and any care you'll need in the future, is part of your damages. So, for example, if you had to undergo a second surgical procedure to fix problems caused by the original hernia mesh implant, the cost of that additional treatment would be counted here. The same goes for any other medical care made necessary by hernia mesh complications. Maybe you had to visit the ER because of pain at the site of the surgery, or you were referred to a specialist for follow-up care.
(On a related note, if the full extent of your medical problems isn't clear, it's probably not in your best interest to accept an injury settlement offer just yet. Your attorney will almost certainly want to wait until both of you have a clear picture of this component of your damages.)
Lost Income and Diminished Earning Capacity
If your hernia mesh complications have impacted your job or your ability to earn a living, that kind of economic harm will also factor into your damages. Specifically, you are entitled to compensation for any income you've already lost because of problems stemming from your hernia mesh surgery, and for income you would have earned in the future, were it not for the defective mesh or botched surgery. In "legalese," an award based on future income is characterized as compensation for the injured person's "loss of earning capacity" or "diminished earning capacity."
Pain and Suffering
While medical treatment and lost income are pretty simple to calculate, "pain and suffering" isn't so easy to quantify. But this category of damages plays a big part in determining how much you can expect to receive in an injury case, and can be a crucial component of a hernia mesh case in particular. Pain and suffering is often broken down into two types. Physical pain and suffering comes from your actual physical injuries, such as the discomfort resulting from infection and other problems caused by defective mesh, and the pain caused by subsequent treatment necessary to fix the problem. Mental pain and suffering can be viewed as the subjective psychological impact of your physical pain. This includes anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, fear, anger, humiliation, anxiety, shock, sleeplessness, and other negative effects of the hernia mesh complications. Learn more about pain and suffering in a personal injury case.
When you file a hernia mesh lawsuit, you're asking the mesh manufacturer or a health care provider (or both) to compensate you for your damages. But you're also taking on the legal obligation to keep those damages to a reasonable minimum. The law in most states expects injury claimants to minimize or "mitigate" the financial impact of the harm caused by the defendant's alleged wrongdoing. For example, if the defendant can successfully argue that you failed to get necessary medical treatment when you knew (or should have known) there was a problem with your hernia mesh implant, your damages award might be significantly reduced. Learn more about how your lawsuit might be affected if your hernia mesh symptoms don't show up right away.