When medical malpractice or negligence is committed by a trusted medical professional, it can bring significant physical, emotional, and financial devastation to you or your family. While you focus on recovering, consider your legal options. You may be able to hold your doctor or another entity responsible for medical malpractice and recover for the damages you’ve suffered.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Put simply, medical negligence or malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to competently perform their duties and causes an injury to a patient. Medical malpractice is a result of the breach of the duty of professional care—an act or omission by a doctor or other medical professional that directly causes the harm suffered by the patient.
Can I Hold the Doctor Responsible?
Any healthcare worker can commit medical malpractice. In some cases, you may be able to bring your medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor personally. Some doctors operate as independent contractors rather than hospital employees. These doctors can be personally sued for medical negligence, as opposed to suing their employer. Usually, physicians in this position have their own medical malpractice insurance rather than relying on their employer’s policy.
Other doctors, however, are direct employees of the hospital and are covered by the institution’s medical malpractice insurance policy. Determining who was at fault is an essential part of constructing your medical malpractice lawsuit, as is pinpointing the proper party or parties against whom you will need to file your claim.
Examples of Doctor Malpractice
Doctors have a multitude of responsibilities when it comes to patient care. In addition to monitoring patient recovery, they must also explain risks and possible side effects, and determine appropriate courses for treatments and medications. There are many instances where a doctor’s care may not rise to the proper standard, resulting in catastrophic consequences for patients and their families. The most common examples of doctor negligence include:
- Failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis. In these cases, the doctor does not arrive at the correct diagnosis or does so much later than they should have.
- Misdiagnosis. This occurs when the doctor provides an entirely incorrect diagnosis.
- Injuries during childbirth. Birth injuries can occur for a number of reasons and can lead to debilitating damages for the child and mother.
- Improper medication. This might involve prescribing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage.
- Anesthesia errors. Improper use of anesthesia can lead to highly detrimental effects.
- Surgical mistakes. Surgical mistakes can include leaving tools inside the patient, operating on the wrong body part, or any number of avoidable complications.
- Treatment mistakes. Mistreating or failing to treat a patient can be considered medical malpractice.
- Education and informed consent. Failing to properly inform a patient about the risks or side effects of a procedure or medication can result in patient injury.
Basic Requirements of a Medical Malpractice Suit
In order to sue for damages in a case of medical malpractice, your situation must meet a few essential qualifications. You must prove the following elements in order to recover in your lawsuit:
- Existence of a doctor-patient relationship. To bring a medical malpractice case to court, you must first establish that you had a professional relationship with the doctor and that you were seeking treatment from them in their professional capacity.
- Negligence by the doctor. You must also prove that the doctor or other professional was negligent—that they failed to adhere to the professional standard of care that another reasonable medical professional would have used under the circumstances.
- The doctor’s negligence caused your injury. The next step is proving that your injury was a direct result of the doctor’s negligent conduct, actions, or inaction.
- The injury led to specific damages. Finally, you must demonstrate you’ve suffered specific damages due to your injuries, such as the loss of work or earning ability, mental anguish, physical pain, or additional medical bills.
Special Requirements for a Medical Malpractice Suit
Medical malpractice cases are often much more complicated than other types of personal injury lawsuits. In addition to meeting the basic lawsuit requirements described above, your case might also need to meet these special qualifications:
- Time frame. In most cases, medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within a specific statute of limitations. While this length of time varies from state to state, generally, it falls within six months to two years of the occurrence of medical malpractice.
- Malpractice review panels. Some states require a malpractice review panel hearing before the actual court case. The results from the malpractice review panel are often used as evidence in the lawsuit.
- Notice to the doctor. In some states, you might have to provide the negligent doctor with written notice of your intention to sue before you file your claim.
- Expert testimony. Almost all states require expert testimony, both for the malpractice review panel and the court case, in order to prove negligence on the part of the doctor. It is also important to note that some states put a maximum cap on the damages provided to victims of medical malpractice.
How Can Janet, Janet & Suggs Help with Your Malpractice Case?
Experienced and knowledgeable malpractice lawyers who understand the complicated legal process related to medical malpractice cases are the best support system for victims of malpractice who are seeking damages. They can help you navigate the legal hurdles related to medical malpractice. The dedicated medical malpractice team at Janet, Janet & Suggs can help you understand your rights and options after a devastating medical malpractice incident.
With our decades of experience, a team of knowledgeable lawyers and medical experts, and access to substantial resources, JJS can aggressively litigate against negligent providers and institutions. We work to get our clients the answers and fair compensation they will need to have the best quality of life possible after being seriously harmed by their medical providers. Contact the medical malpractice team at Janet, Janet & Suggs today for a free, no-obligation consultation.