Sometimes, mistakes occur during the healthcare process, which can cause adverse health effects for patients. Consequently, they may need additional or new medical care, and suffer physical and emotional pain and suffering.
If you suffered injury or illness due to a doctor mistake, you may wonder what options you have. Through a medical malpractice lawsuit, you may seek to recover compensation for your resulting losses. Reviewing some frequently asked questions about medical malpractice cases may help you understand how best to move forward given your circumstances, needs, and goals.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is the legal area dealing with professional negligence on the part of healthcare professionals or facilities. Malpractice occurs when a provider or facility negligently fails to meet the accepted standards of care and, as a result, patients suffer harm. If you are harmed due to a medical mistake, you may seek to recover compensatory damages through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
What Is Medical Negligence?
To recover compensation in a medical malpractice case, you will have to prove negligence. There are four criteria involved with establishing negligence – duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
The existence of a patient-doctor relationship can prove duty of care. To show this, you may use documentation, such as office visit notes, appointment records, and billing statements.
You will need to show that your healthcare provider breached the duty of care by acting negligently or otherwise providing substandard care. To this end, your medical malpractice attorney may work with expert professionals who can give testimony regarding how the care you received deviated from what another reasonable provider would have given you given the same or similar circumstances.
Your attorney will also help gather evidence to show that you suffered injury as a direct result of your healthcare provider’s breach of duty, and that it caused you to incur damages.
What Are Common Examples of Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence may occur at any stage of the healthcare process, and may take various forms. Some of the most common examples of medical negligence include the following:
- Surgical errors
- Missed diagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Improper follow-up care
- Failure to obtain informed consent
- Medication or anesthesia errors
With appropriate care, most occurrences of medical negligence are preventable.
Is There a Time Limit to File My Lawsuit?
Medical malpractice cases generally will have a statute of limitations, or time frame in which you must file your lawsuit. The time allowed varies depending on the state, and sometimes certain factors such as age at the time of the injury. If you do not file your case within the allowed time, you may lose the right to seek damages for your associated losses.
What Damages Can I Recover for a Medical Mistake?
Through a medical malpractice lawsuit, you may seek to recover compensation for losses you incurred as a result of your injury, and thus, the doctor’s negligence. Through a settlement or court judgment, you may obtain damages for your economic and non-economic losses.
Economic damages include tangible losses, such as lost wages and medical expenses. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, provide compensation for losses that do not have a monetary value, including pain and suffering.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Suffering harm at the hands of the healthcare providers you have entrusted with your care may bring about physical, emotional, and financial challenges. Working with a medial malpractice attorney may offer several benefits that help you navigate the legal process of holding a medical professional liable for providing negligent care.
Going up against the legal representation of a healthcare provider or facility on your own may present as a daunting task. Having a lawyer on your side that has experience with the local medical malpractice laws and court procedures may help ensure your rights are upheld, and you’re not taken advantage of.
Medical malpractice attorneys will have familiarity with the state’s laws and procedures, as well as the best practices for presenting evidence successfully to a judge or jury. They will gather and review relevant documentation, and consult with experts to build a strong case to demonstrate that negligence occurred and caused your injury.