Guide to Medical Malpractice Injuries and Claims: What You Need to Know
Dr. Alan Goldberg, Stewart L. Cohen, Esq., and Harry M. Roth, Esq.
Injuries caused by medical malpractice can be devastating. When you need medical attention, you put your life into the hands of experts to help you get well, and you trust that they’ll perform their work at the highest level. Unfortunately, medical errors do occur and can result in a range of personal injuries including wrongful death.
Needing medical attention is stressful enough, dealing with an injury caused by medical malpractice can be overwhelming to the patient and their family. Of course, no one seeks healthcare hoping to bring a medical malpractice case but sometimes a catastrophic personal injury occurs and the patient has no choice. Negligence lawsuits and other medical malpractice claims are extremely complex and therefore difficult.
In order to win such a case, you need a medical malpractice lawyer who knows how to navigate the law, understands the medical treatment in question, the methodology of the medical insurance company and has a proven record of success in the courtroom. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury or any damage due to medical negligence, it could be time to hire a medical malpractice attorney.
Reasons to Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Patients who file a medical malpractice claim likely don’t know exactly what it involves. These lawsuits are complicated, time-consuming, and can sometimes take years to resolve. Working with a professional medical malpractice lawyer can dramatically increase your chances of winning your case. Here are a few services that the law firm will provide to help successfully settle your claim:
- In-depth review of medical records to identify the root cause of a personal injury or wrongful death injuries
- A thorough investigation into the circumstances leading up to the injury
- Consultation with medical experts to determine whether medical negligence caused the injury
- Gathering evidence of your physical and mental pain, lost wages, or other compensation that you should seek
Not all medical malpractice attorneys are created equal. And because there are often statutes of limitation limiting the time you have to bring a medical malpractice claim, you have to find the right lawyer quickly. Be sure to closely research a law firm before you enter into an attorney-client relationship. You should consider how long have they worked on medical malpractice cases.
Learn the firm’s history of success in bringing medical malpractice cases and whether they have the necessary resources and expertise to adequately investigate your claim so they can win your lawsuit. Additionally, make sure you’re comfortable with the lawyer and the law firm you choose. You’ll need to trust your attorney, provide them with all records and information that you have about the claim, and tell them everything so they can dive deeply into the malpractice suit.
Omitting facts or details of a personal injury or a wrongful death tragedy could be the difference between winning and losing your case. The attorney-client relationship absolutely must be built on trust to be successful. Your lawyer will be able to obtain medical or hospital records that you don’t necessarily have access to.
When your law firm has all of the details they need from you, it’ll be able to help investigate your claim and, if meritorious, prepare the case to meet your unique circumstances.
Special Requirements in Medical Malpractice Injury Cases
Medical malpractice claims carry significant implications for all parties involved. First, for you as the injured party, your entire medical history and the losses you claim will be thoroughly investigated during litigation. And second for the medical practitioners that your lawsuit targets because their professionalism and competence will be called into question.
Because there’s so much at stake in medical malpractice claims, these cases have extremely strict requirements—and you have to meet each one to actually file the claim. Although the actual requirements might vary based on your local jurisdiction, here are a few criteria that you’ll likely have to meet:
- Proof that the treatment rendered was negligent, that it breached the appropriate standard of care
- Documentation, such as a certificate of merit from a licensed medical expert, to establish that there has been such a breach
- Proof that the injury was caused by a breach of standard care
- Proof of monetary losses, such as additional medical bills, lost wages, or loss of earning capacity
- Provable damages such as mental anguish, physical pain, or disability
Additionally, negligence and malpractice cases require that the patient have a viable claim worth pursuing. For example, litigation can be grueling and last for years. If you suffered a minor injury as a result of medical negligence, it may not be worth your while to pursue that claim. However, if you’ve suffered a significant, catastrophic injury as a result of medical negligence, a medical malpractice claim can help you recover compensation for your injuries.
Some examples of catastrophic injuries caused by medical negligence may include a doctor’s failure to diagnose or treat a curable condition, errors in surgery or radiology leading to permanent injury or death, or injuries to a baby during childbirth. Medical negligence by a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or even a hospital for not having or enforcing policies and procedures through which healthcare providers act could lead to a claim.
A final requirement to consider is the time frame. Each state has time limits within which a lawsuit must be filed. The failure to start a lawsuit within that time may keep you from obtaining any recovery for that injury. In some cases, the patient has no way of knowing they were harmed by medical malpractice. For instance, an illness or disability appears years after medical treatment. Again, each state has its own rules regarding time limits.
Many recognize that the time limit does not begin to run until the patient knew, or through the exercise of reasonable diligence could have learned they were harmed by a doctor’s negligence. And so, if you’ve just learned of an injury, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney. In evaluating your potential case, a law firm specializing in medical malpractice will identify the healthcare providers responsible for your harm.
In addition to individuals, they may be able to establish claims of vicarious liability against the hospital or practitioners—and they may agree to take the case. At that point, it’s time to prepare yourself for what to expect during your medical malpractice suit.
What to Expect During a Medical Malpractice Suit
There are a lot of moving parts in a medical malpractice lawsuit, so it can be difficult to know what to expect. However, it’s important to stay patient. Lawsuits regarding medical errors can take anywhere from eighteen months to four years to resolve.
This is because of the overall process: the hospital could take months to provide your law firm with the necessary records, and then it takes time for the firm and medical experts to review them. The records must be meticulously examined for any missing information or red flags.
In each malpractice case, your attorney must prove four items:
- Duty: The medical professional was responsible for providing adequate treatment.
- Breach: The medical professional failed to provide adequate treatment, thus resulting in a breach of the standard of care.
- Causation: A clear connection between the inadequate treatment and the damages.
- Damages: Your hardship. Damages include economic losses such as earnings loss, and the costs of medical care, therapies, and equipment necessitated by the injuries as well as your physical pain, emotional suffering, and loss of life’s pleasures.
Each medical practitioner who has been sued is represented by a law firm, usually hired by an insurance company, who are experts in medical malpractice defense. One common defense is that despite the claim of negligence, the medical staff did provide treatment to the current standards. Those sued may also claim their treatment was not a cause of the patient’s injuries.
Another defense is that a patient failed to disclose their full medical history, thus resulting in injury or illness. Additionally, if you claim one individual doctor or nurse, they could claim that your damages occurred in someone else’s care or during patient handoffs, thus absolving them of liability. However, if your attorney has the expertise and talent to rebuke these defenses, your medical negligence case can be successful and you may be awarded compensation for you and your family.
Expected Compensation from a Medical Malpractice Injury Case
With strong evidence supporting the claimed medical malpractice and the right attorney, you can obtain compensation after your medical malpractice injury case. Each case is unique however and the damages to which a patient is entitled depends on many factors including the proof of medical negligence and the damages the patient’s injury caused – both financial and those related to the emotional impact of the pain, suffering, and disability on the patient.
The damages sought are to cover costs like past medical bills, future medical expenses, or lost wages if you weren’t able to work due to an injury as well as the emotional suffering that results from the injuries. It’s important to understand that state law often regulates the types of compensation available in these cases. Your attorney will closely review your medical malpractice claim through the lens of state law.
You could receive economic compensation including monies for past or future medical bills if your state laws and statutes allow it. In some cases, you may also be eligible for noneconomic damages. These include compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, or the inability to support your family due to a catastrophic injury caused by medical negligence.
In order to ensure that you receive your expected compensation from a successful case, your attorney will need to work with the defendant’s medical malpractice insurance. Each medical insurance company and policy is different, and their coverage and payment terms will vary depending on the claim itself and the strength of the lawsuit. You are entitled to this compensation, and you need a law firm that’s willing to fight for you.
Contact Cohen, Placitella & Roth for Your Medical Malpractice Claim
If your family has suffered a catastrophic injury or a wrongful death due to a healthcare provider’s negligence, you need a law firm that specializes in these practice areas. Cohen, Placitella & Roth has been working on medical malpractice cases for fifty years. We have the expertise, resources, and determination to make your case successful.
If you would like to schedule your free consultation with CPR Law, contact us online or give us a call at (888) 560-7189.