Doctors and other medical professionals are held to providing a certain standard of care. Medical malpractice is a type of personal injury claim that seeks to recover damages when this standard of care has been breached and resulted in some sort of injury to the plaintiff. Here are some frequently asked questions about medical malpractice.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Like any personal injury claim, to recover damages from a medical malpractice suit, you must prove there was negligence on the part of the medical professional or entity—a failure to perform a certain action, or the performance of an action, that caused harm. This is based on a reasonable standard of care that would have been expected from that person or entity, a norm that has been established in the medical community. If the defendant acted in a way that is atypical of what another in his position would have done, this can be considered malpractice.
What Are Examples of Medical Malpractice?
Situations that fall under the scope of medical malpractice range far and wide, and can encompass the actions of a variety of health care professionals, such as doctors, nurses, surgeons, chiropractors, ophthalmologists, dentists, pharmacists, psychiatrists, psychologists and podiatrists. You can also seek damages from hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies and insurance companies. Examples of medical negligence include failing to treat a condition, misdiagnosing a condition, administering the wrong treatment, failing to treat properly, delayed treatment, lack of follow-up treatment or inappropriate follow-up, omitting important information to a patient or not getting appropriate consent, leaving an object in the body after surgery, nursing errors such as not following a doctor’s order or not reporting a change in condition to the doctor and not properly monitoring a patient during surgery, and medication errors.
What Compensation Can I Receive?
The type and amount of compensation available to you will depend on many individual factors; the importance of hiring a personal injury attorney with solid experience in medical malpractice cannot be understated when it comes to getting the amount of money you deserve. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills (past and future), loss of income, loss of future earning capacity, disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering and caretaking expenses. If the defendant acted especially egregiously or carelessly, punitive damages may be awarded, which serve to deter similar behavior in others.
How Long Do I Have to File a Suit?
Each state has its own laws regarding the timeframe for filing a medical malpractice suit. This is called a statute of limitations, and failure to act within this period often means losing any right to pursue a claim, since exceptions are very rare. The clock typically starts ticking from the date the injury occurred. If you think you are a victim of medical negligence, you should see a lawyer immediately.
How Do I Pay for An Attorney?
Lawyers who handle medical malpractice and other types of personal injury typically work on a contingency basis, which means they will take a portion of the damages as their fee. If you do not recover any money, you are not responsible for any money they advanced to work the case. Some offer hourly fees as well.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of legal topics.