Special Damages

Special damages are a type of financial compensation awarded to plaintiffs, or suing parties, who win a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit or other personal injury lawsuit. Special damages are also referred to as economic damages. These legal terms describe compensation for the quantifiable financial loss a plaintiff experienced as a direct result of the cancer misdiagnosis.

In a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit, special damages are primarily awarded to cover the plaintiff’s medical bills and lost income. Special damages also cover other costs, such as compensation for family members who were financially dependent on deceased cancer misdiagnosis patients. The legal goal of special damages and other types of damages is to return plaintiffs to the position they were in before the cancer diagnosis took place.

Special Damages vs. General Damages

Special damages and general damages are the two main types of damages awarded in a personal injury lawsuit such as a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit. While special damages cover measurable monetary loss, general damages compensate plaintiffs for losses that cannot be assigned an exact dollar value. General damages may include harm such as loss of quality of life, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.

Special damages and general damages are awarded as a means of compensating the plaintiff for the harm suffered. Punitive damages are a third type of personal injury compensation. As opposed to compensating the plaintiff, punitive damages primarily aim to punish the negligence and wrongdoing of the defendant, or party being sued.

Types of Special Damages

Different types of personal injury lawsuits will award different types of special damages. For example, a car accident lawsuit may result in special damages to cover the costs of repairs for the plaintiff’s vehicle. In a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit, special damages typically cover the plaintiff’s medical costs for additional treatment resulting from the cancer misdiagnosis, as well as earnings the plaintiff lost due to time out of work.

Medical Bills

The medical bills associated with cancer misdiagnosis, and cancer in general, can be astronomical. In many cases, successful cancer treatment requires complex treatment. The patient may require several types of treatment in conjunction with one another. Additionally, cancer treatment may be ongoing. This is especially true in delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose cases where the cancer metastasizes, or spreads to other areas of the body.

Calculating Medical Bills

Special damages for medical bills will typically include past, present, and future medical bills, if appropriate. If the patient suffers permanent disability or otherwise requires lifetime medical treatment, special damages may calculate the amount of the reward based on projections of future costs. Special damages may also cover costs such as home modifications in cases where the patient’s disability requires additions such as guard rails or wheelchair-accessible entryways.

Special damages may cover medical bills such as, but not limited to, the following:

  • Testing and lab work
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Hyperthermia
  • Stem cell transplants
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Blood transfusions
  • Prescription medications
  • Rehabilitation after treatment
  • Transportation costs to and from treatment facilities

Lost Wages

In many cases, cancer misdiagnosis patients are forced to spend time out of work or forfeit their jobs altogether. This occurs due to the physical, psychological, and time-consuming demands of cancer treatment. In the event that a cancer patient received a delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose, delayed treatment is often significantly more aggressive and more tolling on the patient. Likewise, when patients without cancer are misdiagnosed with cancer, unnecessary cancer treatment is often debilitating.

Other Special Damages

Special damages are typically also awarded to cover the costs associated with filing and pursuing the cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit. The legal process is often complex and costly, especially for a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit. These costs may include the cost of hiring a lawyer, filing necessary documents, conducting depositions of involved parties, hiring expert witnesses to testify, and miscellaneous fees.

Special Damages for Family Members

When the patient dies as a direct result of the cancer misdiagnosis, the patient’s family or other individuals who suffer damage may act as the plaintiff of the cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit. These plaintiffs may receive special damages for medical bills, funeral expenses, and other associated costs. In the event that the plaintiffs were financially dependent on the patient, special damages may be awarded to compensate for the estimated financial loss.




“Benefits recoverable as special damages; Law report.” Times [London, England] 24 July 1997: 32. Academic OneFile. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

Fraser, John J. Jr. “Technical Report: Alternative Dispute Resolution in Medical Malpractice.” Pediatrics Mar. 2001: 602. Academic OneFile. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

Neville, Warwick J., and Buddhima Lokuge. “Wrongful Life Claims: Dignity, Disability and “a Line in the Sand”.” Medical Journal of Australia 185.10 (2006): 558-60. ProQuest. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

Stein, Alex. “Toward a theory of medical malpractice.” Iowa Law Review May 2012: 1201+. Academic OneFile. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.