If you have been hurt by a doctor or medical staff member during what should have been a routine procedure, know that you are not alone. Medical errors are extremely common in the United States. A study by Johns Hopkins University estimates that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, lagging only behind cancer and heart disease. Although the healing process following your injury can be long and painful and may never put you back in the position you were in before being injured, a lawsuit for medical malpractice can help with the costs associated with your injury.
Types of Medical Malpractice
There are many situations that qualify as medical malpractice. Common types of malpractice by a doctor include:
- Surgical errors that shouldn’t have happened during your operation.
- Misdiagnosis of a disease that you didn’t actually have, resulting in harm caused by treatment that wasn’t needed.
- Birth injuries caused by careless methods of delivery or failing to monitor a child after birth.
- Failure to diagnose your medical problem, causing your condition to get worse because of a delay or outright lack of treatment.
- Anesthetic/medication errors such as administering too much or too little of an anesthetic or drug.
- Adverse reactions from a doctor giving you a drug that he/she knows or should have known you were allergic to, or from mixing drugs with known adverse reactions.
- Failure to warn you of commonly known risks that might have caused you to decide against treatment or surgery.
Proving a Medical Malpractice Case
To show that a doctor committed medical malpractice, you must be able to prove that five elements existed:
- You and your doctor had a doctor/patient relationship. To be sued for medical malpractice, a doctor must have agreed to work with you. If your doctor owed you no responsibilities, then a claim for medical malpractice will fail. Seeking out a doctor’s advice at an appointment or allowing a surgeon to operate are prime examples of this relationship. On the other hand, asking a doctor for advice in the checkout line of a grocery store would not establish a doctor/patient relationship.
- The doctor owed you a duty. If your doctor has a responsibility to care for you, then he or she is obligated to follow a “standard of care” that any other reasonable doctor or medical worker would provide to you in the same circumstances. If doctors in a similar position would advise a specific treatment then your doctor should follow the same procedure.
- The doctor made a mistake and breached that duty. In order for you to successfully argue a medical malpractice claim, you need to prove that the doctor did something that similar doctors would not have done or failed to do something that a reasonable doctor would have done. If your doctor did something that other competent doctors would have done in the same situation and caused an injury to you, then a claim for medical malpractice will not succeed. The doctor did not act in a way that was negligent.
- The doctor’s mistake was the cause of your injury. To be held liable for your injuries, your doctor’s actions or inactions must have been the cause of your injury. This can be difficult to prove if you were already sick or hurt before being treated. If you have congestive heart failure, for example, it might be difficult to prove that your surgeon was the cause of a heart attack that you suffered after surgery. Most medical malpractice cases require testimony from a medical expert to support your claim. Their testimony can help prove that your injury was caused by your doctor’s negligence instead of a prior injury or illness.
- Damages. If you didn’t actually suffer any harm from your doctor’s mistake, then you won’t be able to win a lawsuit against your doctor for medical malpractice. Some sort of harm must have been suffered, such as medical bills, physical or emotional pain, or lost income.
Medical bills that may be covered in a medical malpractice claim include:
- Medical expenses for doctor appointments, surgeries, and hospital stays
- Medications that you needed after your injury
- Medical equipment that you need as a result of your injury, such as a wheelchair or walker
- Rehabilitation or therapy that you need to treat your injury
Lost Wages and Earning Potential
If you were injured by a doctor’s negligence, you may have had to take time off of work or completely quit your job. This loss of income can be devastating, especially if you are a single-income household or are the breadwinner for your family. When fighting a medical malpractice claim, you may be able to recover damages for income you lost because of your inability to work. If your injury is permanent, you may also be able to receive an award for future lost wages.
If you have been injured by a doctor’s negligence, then you know better than anyone else that the damage you are suffering isn’t purely financial. A medical malpractice award can take into account the pain you suffered from your injury, as well as the emotional distress that you experienced after your injury occurred.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
When it comes to damages for medical malpractice cases, there is no set amount that you are guaranteed to receive. Many factors are considered, including the severity of your injuries, the amount of medical bills owed and the toll that the injury has taken on your physical and emotional well-being. To discuss your case at no charge, call or fill out a case evaluation form today.
How do I Pay for a Lawyer?
If you have been injured by a doctor’s carelessness, you may be hesitant to call an attorney because of the inability to pay attorney’s fees. If this is the case, wait no longer. The lawyers at Hughes & Coleman work on a contingency fee basis for medical malpractice cases, meaning you only pay your attorney if you receive an award for your injuries. You don’t have to worry about down payments, expensive fees, or the possibility of having to pay even if you lose your case.
Talk to an Attorney About Your Case Today
Filing and defending a medical malpractice claim is a confusing and difficult process that involves complex paperwork, deadlines, and legal procedures. Any mistake in this process could negatively impact your case, or even result in a dismissal of your case. If you have been injured by a doctor’s incompetence or carelessness, you have enough on your plate. Don’t compromise your healing process by trying to fight your case alone. Instead, let the experienced attorneys at Hughes & Coleman stand with you during the entire litigation process and help you get the compensation you deserve. Your attorney will comb through your individual situation to determine whether you have a solid foundation on which to build a medical malpractice lawsuit. It’s entirely free to talk to our team about your case, so don’t hesitate. Call or fill out a case evaluation today.