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Introduction

Damages, the amount of money necessary to "make the plaintiff whole," are the engine that drives civil law for injured individuals. If the plaintiff is personally wealthy or backed by a litigation advocacy group such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the decision to proceed with the case may be made on moral principle. Otherwise, without adequate damages to pay the plaintiff's attorney's contingent fee and provide reasonable compensation for the client, most plaintiffs will be unable to obtain representation. This is especially true of medical malpractice litigation, in which litigation expenses are very high and the jury is not allowed to compensate the plaintiff for the cost of bringing the lawsuit. Newspaper accounts of medical malpractice verdicts give the impression that juries are free to award the plaintiff any arbitrary amount of money. In reality, damages are determined by a detailed analysis of the plaintiff's losses, both financial and emotional.


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