An Attorney’s Guide To Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Professionals in different sectors make mistakes. But when it comes to the health industry, mistakes or errors can lead to severe consequences such as death or altering one’s quality of life.
For this reason, relevant laws protect patients from medical malpractice and negligence.
The laws give them the power to hold medical providers accountable for their actions. However, filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is challenging. Luckily, having a medical malpractice attorney makes the process easier.
Nonetheless, you must understand every nitty-gritty of the lawsuit. This guide provides the details.
What Does A Medical Malpractice Claim Constitute?
Any patient who has been injured or died as a result of a medical provider’s negligence can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, the patient must meet the following requirements to file a malpractice claim.
1. Evidence Of Bleach Of Standard Of Care
A doctor, surgeon, anesthesiologist, or nurse must have violated the standard of care expected of all patients seeking medical care for your claim to be successful. Standard of care is specific treatment guidelines that a health provider must follow when administering treatment.
To establish that the doctor’s activities caused your injuries, a medical malpractice attorney must locate a medical expert who works in the same area of medicine as the doctor who engaged in negligence and malpractice. The medical expert must provide you with an affidavit; otherwise, the court will not consider your claim.
2. A Proven Proximate Cause
A patient must demonstrate and prove proximate causation in addition to proof of a standard of care violation. They must ascertain that the doctor’s behavior caused their injury. Simply put, they must be able to demonstrate in court that their injuries would not have occurred if there had been no doctor negligence and malpractice.
3. A List And Proof Of Damages
The expenses associated with pursuing a malpractice claim are huge, keeping in mind the evaluation of medical records by experts, your time and effort, and of course, the pain and suffering you are now going through.
Therefore, for medical malpractice to go through, you must prove that your injuries are severe enough that you have accumulated substantial medical bills, missed significant amounts of work, lost the capacity to work, and much more.
Identifying Medical Malpractice And Proving It
It is considered medical malpractice when a patient is harmed due to a medical provider’s actions. The legislation around proving medical misconduct is quite complicated. Sometimes, neglect is apparent.
In some instances, the patient’s injury could not appear immediately after the medical treatment or operation, making it challenging to blame the medical provider for it. In other situations, the medical institution or provider may choose not to report errors committed by the medical professional.
As a result, when attempting to establish medical malpractice, one must carefully consider the patient’s medical history, the relevant legal standards, and the events that contributed to the accident or illness.
Medical Malpractice Types
Examples of medical malpractice that may push a patient to file a formal lawsuit include the following:
- Incorrect diagnosis, a missed diagnosis, or a delayed diagnosis
- Misinterpreting or omitting laboratory findings
- Surgery mistakes
- Unnecessary surgery
- Incorrect dose or medicine
- Poor aftercare or follow-up
- Premature release
- Failure to collect sufficient patient history
- Ignoring patient history
- Failure to order the necessary tests or to act on the results
- failing to identify symptoms
Types Of Medical Malpractice Damages
If a medical malpractice attorney proves that the injuries or losses sustained were caused by a doctor’s negligence, victims of medical malpractice are entitled to compensation. However, several factors are considered when calculating medical malpractice damages. They include the following:
- Mental distress and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Lost income
- Loss of benefits, such as pension contributions
- Medical care expenses
- Funeral expenses if the injury resulted in the death
These damages are classified into general, special, and punitive.
1. General Damages
General damages translate to a sum of money given as compensation in a lawsuit for harm caused. Injuries may include pain, suffering, inability to perform particular tasks, and diminished quality of life. Although one cannot calculate an exact monetary amount, a patient is entitled to a specific amount if it is clear they experienced permanent physical impairment, a loss of function, disfigurement, or mental anguish.
The compensation should align with the nature, extent, and duration of a patient who is expected to go through adverse experiences.
2. Special Damages
Unlike general damages, special damages can be quantified. These damages are intended to compensate for lost wages up to the present time, as well as medical care costs and costs for treating injuries brought on by a negligent act or omission. The lawyer will determine the entire amount you would have earned throughout your life if you are permanently disabled and have lost all ability to make a living.
3. Punitive Damages
The civil court may decide to award punitive damages in addition to general and special damages. This award serves as punishment for the doctor’s or other medical professional’s negligence and compensation for the victim’s suffering.
The jury will determine the maximum amount of punitive damages that can be awarded, but the judge must also give their consent. It can only be granted in exceptional cases, and many judges won’t allow an amount ten times greater than the sum awarded to the plaintiff in special and general damages.
Statute Of Limitations For A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
The statute of limitations is the duration a patient has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Although the time limit varies by state, the average period is two to four years. The clock starts ticking when a patient becomes aware of medical negligence.
Filing a claim after the statute limitations has expired means that the case will be dismissed, and the patient will not be able to recover compensation for their loss.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Guidelines
A medical malpractice lawsuit is necessary if a patient suffers due to a medical provider’s negligence. However, the case must be filed within the statute of limitation. It must also satisfy the standard of care, proximate cause, and proof of damages.
Once proven, the patient is entitled to general, special, or punitive compensation according to the nature and duration of the injuries. Working with an experienced medical malpractice attorney increases the rate of winning your case.