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What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional’s negligence harms a patient. If a doctor, nurse, or other practitioner fails to deliver an adequate standard of care, and a patient is injured as a result, there may be grounds for a medical malpractice case.
Medical malpractice can occur at any point during the diagnosis, treatment/surgery, or follow-up stages of care, and it can take many forms.
Here are some of the most common types of medical malpractice.
Birth injuries like cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy may be permanent, and they are typically unexpected, leaving many families unprepared to handle the challenges to come.
Although some birth injuries are unfortunate accidents, others are preventable mistakes. A preventable birth injury that occurs due to a health care professional’s negligence or error may be considered medical malpractice.
Failure to Diagnose
Failure to diagnose occurs when a health care professional fails to provide a patient with an accurate and/or timely diagnosis for their condition. Patients are entitled to a reasonable standard of care, and a failure to diagnose – or a misdiagnosis – is a form of inadequate care.
A delayed diagnosis can lead to a delay in treatment, which can have devastating effects on a person’s health, depending on their condition. When a failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis causes the patient to be injured, the patient may be able to file a medical malpractice claim.
Prescription Drug Errors
When you take prescription drugs as directed by your doctor, you should reasonably expect your symptoms to improve, not worsen. Unfortunately, there are many errors that a doctor can make when prescribing or administering medication, causing harm to the patient.
The following prescription drug errors may be considered medical malpractice:
- Administering or prescribing improper medication
- Administering or prescribing the wrong dosage
- Failing to warn the patient of side effects
- Mislabeling medication containers
- Prescribing medication that interacts with the patient’s other medications
- Prescribing medication the patient is allergic to
There’s a certain degree of risk involved with any surgery. But when a surgeon or nurse makes a surgical error, and the patient is injured as a result, it may constitute medical malpractice.
Examples of surgical errors in the operating room may include:
- Anesthesia errors
- Causing an infection
- Cutting a body part unintentionally
- Damaging a nerve unnecessarily
- Failure to address complications from surgery
- Leaving surgical tools/equipment inside the patient
- Operating on the wrong limb or organ
Surgical errors can occur for a host of reasons, including:
- Bad planning
- Poor communication
- Poor training
- Substance abuse
If you’ve been the victim of a surgical error, medication error, misdiagnosis, or had a loved one injured before or during birth, you should speak with a medical malpractice attorney to see if you’re owed compensation.
Who Can File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Medical malpractice happens when a person is harmed because a health care professional failed to uphold the medical standard of care.
Generally speaking, a medical malpractice case must meet these three criteria:
- The health care professional had a duty of care to the patient.
- Due to the professional’s action or negligence, that standard of care was not upheld.
- Because the standard of care was not upheld, the patient was injured.
You may have grounds for a medical malpractice case if you or a loved one has been harmed by:
- A birth injury
- Delayed treatment
- Medication errors
- A misdiagnosis (or failure to diagnose)
- Surgical errors
Get a free legal consultation to see if you qualify for a lawsuit. The medical malpractice law firms in our network have registered nurses on staff who can listen to your story and help you figure out why your injury occurred.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice lawsuits can only be tried if a claim was filed within a certain period of time after the injury took place. The laws that set these deadlines are known as statutes of limitations. Once the deadline has passed, you can no longer file a medical malpractice claim.
Statutes of limitations vary by state, with medical malpractice statutes ranging from two to seven years after an injury. No matter how much time has passed, though, it’s worth contacting a medical malpractice attorney who can determine if you can and should file a claim.
How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Case Take?
Every medical malpractice case is different, and the amount of time it takes to resolve a lawsuit depends on a number of factors. However, a good medical malpractice attorney will have the skills and experience necessary to guide you through the process quickly and efficiently. Some medical malpractice cases are settled in as few as 90 days.
How Much Are Medical Malpractice Settlements?
According to a 2013 study from Medscape, over 90% of medical malpractice cases are settled out of court, and the average medical malpractice settlement is $425,000. The average jury award is $1 million.
Your medical malpractice lawyer will build the strongest case possible so you receive full compensation for your injury. They will determine how much you are owed for past, present, and future damages, then negotiate with the defense to make sure you get the amount you deserve.
Medical Malpractice Compensation
Medical malpractice damages a plaintiff may be able to recover include (but are not limited to):
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of income
- Loss of life’s enjoyment
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (to discourage future negligence)
What’s the Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death?
Though medical malpractice cases can also be wrongful death cases, not all wrongful death cases are due to medical malpractice. While medical malpractice refers specifically to death by medical negligence, wrongful death is broader – it may involve an auto accident, a boating accident or drowning, nursing home abuse, a workplace incident, or another type of negligence that led to someone’s death.
How Much Do Medical Malpractice Lawyers Make?
Though some people think of attorneys as being expensive to hire or charging by the hour, most medical malpractice lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means their clients don’t pay upfront or out-of-pocket fees. In fact, the attorneys in our network only get paid if a case results in compensation. That fee comes out of the settlement or jury award, not the client’s pocket.
How Do I Choose a Medical Malpractice Attorney?
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit may seem overwhelming, but the right medical malpractice attorney can guide you every step of the way and handle the heavy lifting, making the process as smooth and painless as possible.
- Extensive experience with this type of lawsuit
- Free case reviews for prospective clients
- A proven record of successfully winning compensation
- The resources needed to build the strongest case possible
How Do I Start a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. LawFirm.com has a nationwide network of top medical malpractice attorneys, and we can connect you with the best lawyer for your potential claim.
These cases are time-sensitive, so reach out today to see if you qualify for compensation.