Medical malpractice suits are complex, and you will need the help of a specialized personal injury attorney. If you have reason to believe that you have been a victim of malpractice, and would like to investigate the possibility of bringing your ex-doctor to justice, get in touch with Herrman & Herrman’s experienced personal injury attorneys to discuss your case. We have brought unprofessional medical personnel to account for their carelessness in surgery, prescription of medication, incorrect or failed diagnosis, birth injuries and more.
Some medical malpractice claims arise from mistakes made in the operating room. A surgeon might be negligent during the operation itself (puncturing internal organs, operating on the wrong body part, or leaving surgical instruments in the body) or the nursing staff might be negligent in administering post-op care (which could result in complications like serious infection).
Once the Form 95 has been filed with the appropriate federal agency, then you must work with the agency to resolve your claim. There are a lot of pitfalls if you do not know what you are doing. If you cannot successfully resolve the claim administratively, you have the option of filing suit so long as you file within the appropriate limitations period. Our attorneys have decades of trial experience and are able to assist you in this process. Please contact us if you need a free evaluation of your claim. Once you have filed your form 95, you must wait at least 6 months (maybe more depending on the course of your administrative claim) before you can file a federal lawsuit.
The vast majority of cases will ultimately hinge on which medical expert the jury decides to believe. It is true that as the case develops and the experts are deposed, your attorney may have more of an educated guess about how things might go in court, but there will never be certainty. Medical facts are too complex and the influences on jurors too unpredictable.
Our attorneys have a strong record of succeeding in serious personal injury cases in which the negligent party is an agent of the government. In fact, our firm obtained two of the largest Federal Tort Claims Act verdicts in United States history: Dickerson v. U.S., a medical malpractice birth injury case in which our clients received $15.75 million, and Lebron v. U.S., another medical malpractice birth injury case in which our clients received $18.96 million.
It’s vital to note, however, that the prosecution of medical malpractice cases—in addition to having a high likelihood of failure—can be extremely expensive, stressful and time-consuming. It’s estimated that medical errors kill roughly 200,000 patients in the U.S. each year. Yet only 15% of the personal-injury lawsuits filed annually involve medical-malpractice claims, and more than 80% of those lawsuits end with no payment whatsoever to the injured patient or their survivors.
While most people think of medical malpractice claims only in terms of the clear errors, like amputating the wrong leg, or dropping a junior mint into someone’s body during surgery, it is generally much more nuanced. When a doctor fails to make an appropriate diagnosis, prescribes the wrong medication, or fails to communicate important information, malpractice claims may be possible in these situations as well.
If the doctor performs procedure B after the patient has given informed consent for procedure A, the patient can sue the doctor based on lack of informed consent. This is true even if the procedure was successful. For example, if a doctor operates on the left leg to remove a growth that is on the right leg, the patient may be able to sue for, among other things, lack of informed consent.
According to Joseph’s Incorporated, proof of negligence is decided on the basis of a balance of probabilities. If you want to pursue a case, the onus is on you to prove negligence, as well as damage due to the negligence (see “Burden of proof”, below). Medical experts have to provide relevant, credible, reliable information, as it is certain that opposing lawyers will look for any opportunity to discredit them.
If an expert testifies that a doctor had the opportunity to diagnose cancer earlier but failed (negligently) to do so, it would then have to be shown through complex medical evidence that the patient suffered additional harm. Proving that a delay in diagnosis lead to additional injury – death from cancer that otherwise may have been cured, or prolonged treatment and suffering that should have been avoided – is necessary to establish a medical malpractice claim.
Most doctors and other medical professionals carry malpractice insurance to protect themselves in case of negligence/unintentional injury to their patients. The insurance may even be a requirement for employment within a specific medical group or hospital system. Some states, but not all, have minimum insurance requirements for medical providers. Malpractice insurance will cover both attorney costs and any money given to the plaintiff as the result of a settlement or verdict until it is exhausted, and then the medical provider or facility may be responsible for any excess verdict or judgment against them.
Investigation: Before a case is even filed with the Connecticut courts, it is essential that an initial investigation of the matter be completed. Our team works with medical experts in the field to determine whether medical negligence was committed by your doctor or any other medical professional. Our lawyers then determine how that negligence caused your injury.
Note, however, that harm can include the progression of an injury or condition. For instance, if test results that reveal cancer are communicated too late and the patient has to then undergo intensive treatment because of the advanced stage of illness, the patient may be able to show that unnecessary harm was caused by the negligent delay in reporting the test results
The Seattle medical malpractice lawyers at The Tinker Law Firm, PLLC can help if you have reason to believe that you or a loved one was harmed by a negligent breakdown in the communication of medical test results. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of those injured by negligent medical care. For a free review of your case, complete our online contact form.
For example, John Smith went to his local doctor because he had a black spot on his foot and his leg was painful. His doctor sent him to a surgeon who suggested a special procedure using a needle inserted into his leg artery to see whether the veins in John’s foot were blocked. The surgeon botched the procedure and John’s artery was damaged. Several weeks later John’s leg had to be amputated. When John consulted a lawyer and the lawyer investigated his claim, the lawyer found that John’s original foot condition was gangrene and he was always going to have to have his leg amputated, so the surgeon’s negligence in performing the procedure did not leave John worse off than he would otherwise have been and he fails the test of causation.
Examples of medical malpractice involving doctors include making surgical mistakes, leaving medical instruments inside the body during a procedure, cutting tissue in error, interpreting test and lab results incorrectly, resulting in the wrong diagnosis, or treating a condition inappropriately. Examples of malpractice involving nurses include failing to communicate new symptoms to doctors, administering the wrong type or dose of medication and failing to use equipment correctly.
For instance, my friend battled to get through to her local practice last week. When she finally did, she was told that there were no appointments for the next three weeks! Of course, like most working people, she was after an evening appointment, which are a tad difficult to get hold of. Yet these are the slots that many of us want – in our 2009 survey, half of the 2,400 people we asked wanted appointments outside of 9am to 5pm.
Doctors must abide by what is called “the duty of informed consent”. This means that a doctor is obligated by law and by professional ethics to warn patients of all known risks of a procedure or course of treatment. If a patient who had been properly informed of risks and potential side-effects would have elected not to proceed, the doctor MAY be liable for medical malpractice. Similarly, if the patient is injured by the procedure – or during the course of treatment – in a way that the doctor should have warned could happen but didn’t, the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice.
Doctor Mistake, No Injury to Patient – Not all medical errors cause injury to the patient. For example, a doctor may prescribe the incorrect dosage of medication. The patient then takes the wrong dose, has a temporary reaction, and reports it to the doctor or pharmacist. If the error is caught before the patient suffers any serious or lasting injuries, then this would be considered a mistake on the doctor’s fault but would not be considered medical malpractice. The lack of harm to the patient does not erase the fact that the doctor made a serious mistake. In this situation, however, this would not be considered medical malpractice by the doctor because there is no lasting harm to the patient.
When you consider the time it takes for your attorney to conduct an initial investigation, gather the facts and early evidence, track down a medical expert, conduct required settlement negotiations and/or go through the medical screening panel or other pre-suit requirements, you can begin to see why most medical malpractice plaintiffs are in a scramble to beat the limitations deadline from the moment they decide to sue. (To find your state's time limit to file a medical malpractice case, see this chart.)