Medical Malpractice Claims
“Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed because a doctor (or other medical professional) failed to perform competently under accepted standards of medical care”- NOLO, Law for All.
Medical malpractice is extremely harmful to patients, and can leave them with life-altering injuries. Medical malpractice claims can help injured victims recover damages.
Requirements for a Claim
According to NOLO, to file a medical malpractice claim, the following must be true:
A doctor-patient relationship existed. This means that you actually hired the doctor. For example, if you ask your friend who knows a doctor to ask for medical advice, you cannot file a claim against that doctor because he/she never treated you, thus no doctor-patient relationship actually existed.
The doctor was negligent. The doctor was not reasonably skillful and careful in your diagnosis or treatment. You must be able to show that the doctor caused you harm in a way that a competent doctor, under the same circumstances, would not have.
The doctor's negligence caused the injury. It must be proven that it was the doctor’s negligence, not a pre-existing condition, that caused you harm. The patient must show that it is “more likely than not” that the doctor's incompetence directly caused the injury. This is where it helps to have a medical expert involved in your case.
The injury led to specific damages. Even if it is clear that the doctor performed below the expected standards in his or her field, the patient can only sue for malpractice if the injury led to actual harm. For example, if a doctor incorrectly prescribed a medication, but there were no adverse side-effects, pain, or complications, it would be reasonable to say that it would be impractical to file a medical malpractice suit. Damages that can form the basis of a claim may include:
- physical pain
- mental anguish
- additional medical bills
- lost work and lost earning capacity
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
There are many different situations that can lead to a medical malpractice claim. Examples include misdiagnosis, failing to notify a patient of a disorder or disease, or even leaving a surgical instrument in a patient’s body. According to NOLO, all situations fit into the following categories:
Failure to diagnose. If a competent doctor would have discovered the patient's illness or made a different diagnosis it would have led to a better outcome than the one actually achieved.
Improper treatment. If a doctor treats the patient in a way that no other competent doctor would, the patient could have a medical malpractice claim. Also, it may also be malpractice if the doctor chooses appropriate treatment but administers it incompetently.
Failure to warn a patient of known risks. Doctors have a duty to warn patients of known risks of a procedure or course of treatment. This is known as the duty of informed consent. If a patient, once properly informed of possible risks, would have elected not to go through with the procedure, the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice if the patient is injured by the procedure (in a way that the doctor should have warned could happen).
Medical Malpractice Claim Facts
Information below provided by MedScape.
- Doctors are not the only ones who can commit medical malpractice. You can be injured by nurses, therapists, staff members, lab personnel, etc., and it is still considered medical malpractice.
- Every state has statute of limitations laws which say how much time you have to file a medical malpractice suit. If you miss the filing deadline, you will lose your case.
- Medical malpractice suits are expensive, largely because of the necessity of expert witnesses. Expert witnesses are the ones who can prove or disprove your claim, and can attach a monetary value on past and future medical costs, loss of wages, etc.
Contact An Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured because of a doctor’s or hospital’s mistake, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. We are available 24/7, nights and weekends.