Medical malpractice is a very active component of the American legal system. Each year, thousands of patients suffer pain and injury from the negligence of the medical community.
If you have suffered an injury at the hands of a physician or medical team, you may be thinking about a medical malpractice lawsuit. You need to consider specific situations and actions and be able to prove negligence on the part of the medical professional. You need to provide documented proof of the injury. You don’t want to go-it-alone. This is the time to enlist the support and advocacy of a top-quality medical malpractice law firm.
Medical Malpractice Legal Definition
Medical malpractice is a legal term that refers to negligence by an act, or failure to act, by a doctor or other healthcare provider. When a medical professional’s treatment fails to meet the accepted standard within the medical community, and it causes injury to, or death of, the patient, it is considered to be malpractice. Medical malpractice is a very serious charge, though the laws governing it vary depending on the jurisdiction. Regulation varies from state-to-state.
Each year, thousands of patients suffer from medical negligence. Researchers have found that few patients who are injured ever file a medical negligence lawsuit. Approximately 100,000 Americans die each year because of medical negligence. Medical personnel and staff can be at fault for medical negligence – not just physicians.
Medical Malpractice Trends in Cases and Settlements
Types of medical malpractice cases and their outcomes vary across the country. Large insurance companies commonly fight for the medical community and prefer to settle out of court when possible. Settling saves the insurance companies the money they would have to spend on legal fees if the case were to go through legal proceedings.
The average settlement fee is an average of $125,000. In contrast, the plaintiff may win an award from a jury trial of $235,000. Medical malpractice suits are tough to win. The law firm must be prepared with information and documents to present powerful evidence to prove the case.
The best support you can have to win your case is an experienced, strong team of experts in medical malpractice law. This team becomes your advocate and support. This advocate must be experienced in medical malpractice situations. Having a team of medical malpractice experts helps improve your chances of winning your case in court.
Settlements vary from state-to-state. Some states have regulations that limit the amount of an award. In some states, the parties involved will negotiate a settlement without ever going to court. In these circumstances, the injured parties receive adequate awards.
Settling outside the courtroom saves money on fees and costs for trial preparations, time spent in litigation, and occasionally in arbitration. Settling out of court is more likely to garner you compensation for your injuries.
Malpractice trends are changing. Over the last two decades, settlement compensation amounts have remained somewhat fair and realistic. There has been a slight elevation in malpractice suits in recent years.
There was a drop in trends of multi-million dollar settlements and awards in the first years of the 21st century. There was a sense of fairness at that time and awards seemed to honestly match the value of the actual injuries and damage.
Today’s trends as we near the 2020s are rising again. Increasing trends are going up approximately 2.3 percent each year. The political climate had an impact on the number of malpractice lawsuits. Experts predict that medical malpractice claims will rise within the next few years due to the negligence of healthcare providers.
Medical malpractice awards vary from state-to-state. New York has some of the highest payouts, while Wisconsin has the lowest. Don’t let this discourage you. If your attorney is aggressive and dedicated to your case, he or she can build a strong and convincing case on your behalf.
Types of Negligence
Malpractice does not apply when a patient states that he or she is unhappy with the care of the doctor or nurse. A patient must prove medical malpractice and the circumstances must meet specific requirements, including:
- Existing doctor-patient relationship – the patient or plaintiff must demonstrate that he hired the doctor to manage his or her care, and treated the patient in some respect
- The doctor was negligent – the plaintiff must submit proof that the doctor was negligent in diagnosing and/or treating the patient, and that the physician’s care or lack of care brought about damage and injury. The patient must submit proof that a qualified physician in the same field with the same training and experience would have acted differently
- The doctor’s negligence caused the injury — the plaintiff must substantiate that the doctor’s negligent acts or omissions caused the injuries or damages and are not the result of another factor
- The injury led to certain damages – the plaintiff must establish that the injuries caused by the physician’s negligence caused harm such as physical pain mental stress, mental anguish, or additional medical costs
Other medical neglect can cause a medical malpractice lawsuit. Some common causes of medical malpractice include the following:
- Failure to diagnose: A doctor who fails to make an appropriate diagnosis, and it is thought that another physician with the ability, knowledge, and skill correctly would have diagnosed the medical condition, the patient may claim a case of medical malpractice
- Failure to warn a patient: If a doctor fails to warn a patient about the risks and circumstances of taking a specific medication, a course of treatment, or a procedure, the doctor may have violated his duty of informed consent. If the patient can show that the doctor knew of the risks involved before the treatment, the patient would have had the opportunity to select an alternative treatment
- Improper treatment: If a physician conducts a treatment that no other competent medical professional would, and the patient suffered injury, this incident may qualify as medical malpractice. Improper treatment also encompasses cases where the doctor selects the correct course of treatment, yet he or she administers it incorrectly
Duty of Care
The legal system requires doctors to provide reasonable medical care to their patients. The law requires that licensed medical practitioners correctly diagnose the illness and organize research to locate the cause of medical issues. A person who presents with chest pains might reasonably expect his or her doctor to investigate the possibility of an impending heart attack.
If the medical professional expresses that the person is well and sends the individual home, only to find that the person later has a heart attack, the doctor may be liable for a medical malpractice suit.
For a medical malpractice suit to be effective, the patient or plaintiff must prove two things:
- The patient must prove that the doctor was negligent by illustrating that a reasonable doctor would have handled the situation differently.
- The individual must prove that an injury resulted from the doctor’s negligence.
It is challenging to prove that a doctor’s misdiagnosis or failure to take action led directly to the injury. In the case of a heart attack, the doctor might offer the defense that the patient had suffered heart damage regardless of what the doctor did or did not do.
In this instance, the court would call expert witnesses to present expert testimony. The information from expert witnesses can prove that the injury occurred due to the doctor’s omission of action.
Another duty is the duty to assist. Under normal circumstances, the law does not state that a person has a duty to act. For instance, if a person discovered someone who was hurt and needed help, the person who discovered the injured person is not legally required to help the individual, except under special circumstances.
There is a different rule, however, if one owes a duty to the person in need. An example of this is with a parent helping a child because of the legal parental duty to do so. Likewise, if one hurts someone in an accident, the person causing the accident has a duty to assist the injured person. In a similar manner, a doctor is under obligation to help patients by providing the level of medical care that a doctor should provide under normal circumstances. Failure to do so can result in a medical malpractice suit.
There are several things to consider when you are thinking about a medical malpractice lawsuit. You need to recount the interactions with your doctor regarding diagnosis, cause for action, and professional procedures. Any failure to act, employing the inappropriate technique or methodology, an improper diagnosis can be cause for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Getting your case appropriately prepared to go to court requires your being ready with documentation and your advocacy team. Find your medical malpractice law firm and work together to line-up the facts and pursue what is due you. Be strong and be prepared.
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