Thousands of Americans suffer from medical malpractice injuries annually, but fewer than 15% of personal injury cases filed each year involve medical malpractice.
If you think medical malpractice might have happened to you, it's critical to learn about your legal rights so that your attorney can help you to obtain appropriate compensation.
If your medical professional committed one of the acts below while you were in their care, you could have legal options:
As in any personal injury case, negligence must be proven in court for the victim to receive compensation. The four elements of negligence are below.
For this example, let's assume that you have taken your daughter to the doctor with a deep cut on her arm, and the doctor accidentally used contaminated tools to stitch the wound. Her arm then becomes infected and she requires emergency medical care.
For the medical professional to be found negligent, your attorney must show that her conduct fell below the "accepted standard" of medical care. To establish that accepted standard in court, usually you must have an expert medical witness testify about the standard of care that was violated in your case.
Most health care providers try to provide a high standard of care, but bad things do happen. If you had a medical experience that harmed you, you could be entitled to compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The basic steps to follow to file such a case are:
As you can guess, coordinating a medical malpractice lawsuit is difficult and very stressful. The process can take a long time.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney is extremely beneficial; she can quickly gauge if you have a strong malpractice case, and can help you to get a fair settlement or proceed with a lawsuit.
Damages that you could be entitled to in a medical malpractice lawsuit are:
Medical malpractice legal actions are not limited to doctors. Other health care professionals and entities can be sued as well, such as:
Virtually all hospitals are corporations, and they can be held liable for negligence. Also, they may be held vicariously liable for their employees' negligence. The medical staff at a hospital has doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, nurse practitioners and many others.
When the hospital hires, it must ensure that all applicants have appropriate education, licensing and training. If they fail to do so, the hospital may be held liable under different theories, such as respondeat superior (such as the hospital being responsible for a nurse's misconduct) and the corporate negligence doctrine (such as the hospital being responsible for a private physician's misconduct).
Hospitals also must have enough RNs working on every shift so that quality care can be provided to patients.
If the hospital does not do so, it can be sued for patient injuries because of a shortage of nurses.
Another common liability area is when employees fail to follow the orders of the doctor for a patient. On the other hand, if the employee clearly knows that the superior's orders are contraindicated and follows them anyway despite knowing better, that could also lead to liability.
Some states have caps on damages that you can be awarded in a medical malpractice case, including punitive damages. As of 2016, 33 states have caps to medical malpractice damages.
It is important to do plenty of research and choose a medical malpractice lawyer with many years of experience in medical negligence legal work. Medical malpractice law is a very specialized area that requires an attorney with a lot of experience. This is because there is plenty of overlap between complicated medical and legal matters. There also are unique procedural matters that come up in medical malpractice cases.
Most attorneys in medical malpractice law practice one of two kinds:
Read more and see where to find a lawyer in How to Find the Right Medical Malpractice Attorney for Your Case.
Selecting the right attorney can often make or break a medical malpractice case; these cases are intensely complicated, and doctors are always represented by tough, aggressive insurance companies and attorneys because they are generally on a hospital's payroll. Even if they're not, their insurance company will put together a terrifying legal team. Read more