Medical Malpractice Law
What is Medical Malpractice Law?
Medical malpractice law governs the liability of doctors and other treatment providers when they cause harm to a patient by rendering their services in a negligent manner. All states have their own laws and procedures to handle these specialized personal injury cases. But in general terms, a doctor will be held liable if his or her conduct fails to meet the “standard of care” provided by other doctors under similar circumstances.
Errors that qualify as medical malpractice will typically fall into one of several categories. These include a failure or delay in diagnosing a patient’s condition, misreading X-rays, prescribing the wrong pharmaceuticals, failing to warn a patient of the risks or side effects of a procedure, performing services without the patient’s informed consent, and making a mistake during surgery or childbirth.
When doctors act carelessly, the results can be catastrophic for the patient. It is not surprising, then, that damage awards in medical malpractice cases are among the largest of all personal injury cases. Damages may include medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, decreases in earning potential, punitive damages, as well as compensation for partial or complete impairment, disfigurement, and death.
Expert witnesses play a unique role in medical malpractice lawsuits. Many of the issues debated in these cases, such as whether a surgery was performed correctly, are too complex for judges and juries to understand on their own. This means other doctors must be called upon to study the case, render an opinion, and explain their findings. For the injured patient, the expense of hiring an expert significantly increases the cost of bringing the claim.
A number of public policy groups and elected officials oppose large damage awards in medical malpractice suits. Referred to as tort reform, this effort aims to pass legislation making it more difficult for injured people to file lawsuits, and to cap the amount of damages they can recover once they win. Proponents argue that tort reform will reduce the cost of health care, but the data is inconclusive, and the issue remains highly contentious.
Compensation for Your Suffering
The first step in pursuing a medical malpractice case is to retain an attorney. Unlike some other areas of the law, self-representation in these cases is not feasible. In fact, due to the financial resources and litigation expertise required, most attorneys do not accept medical malpractice cases. Plaintiffs should seek out a reputable law firm that specializes in medical malpractice.
The attorney will begin by conducting an in-depth evaluation of the factual circumstances surrounding the incident. Hospital records and other evidence will be gathered, and depositions (formal interviews for the purpose of recording sworn testimony) will be taken of the defendant and any witnesses. A medical expert, who will later be available to testify at trial, will then review the evidence and draft a report for the plaintiff.
The expert’s report will be turned over to the defendant’s attorneys and insurance adjuster, and settlement negotiations will take place. If the two sides can agree on the amount of damages that should be paid, they will enter into a settlement agreement. The plaintiff will be compensated, and the case will end. If the parties cannot agree, the case will proceed to trial. A judge or jury will then decide the outcome.
During the entire process, the plaintiff’s attorney must comply with a variety of procedural requirements. A single misstep can result in the case being dismissed. These requirements include a statute of limitations, which is a strict deadline for filing the paperwork to initiate the lawsuit. Depending on state law, the case may have to be presented to a medical review board prior to filing suit, and special notices to the defendant may be required.
Patients trust doctors to perform their duties with care. However, when preventable accidents occur during the course of medical treatment, injured patients and their families often encounter insurance companies that want to deny compensation, or pay far less than they should. If medical malpractice is suspected, the best way to protect a patient’s rights is to contact a qualified attorney.
Know Your Rights!
Articles on HG.org Related to Medical Malpractice Law
- What Are the Risks Involved with Medical Tourism?Medical tourism occurs when a person from one country researches and travels to another for healthcare procedures that are usually cheaper or higher quality than the home nation. However, there are certain risks involved depending on the country and procedure sought such as injury or illness from recovery times.
- When Your Therapist Is Guilty of Medical MalpracticeWhen it comes to medical malpractice, most people think about a physician who makes an error in diagnosing, treating, or managing a physical injury or illness.
- What Are the Common Countries that Engage in Medical Tourism?The top ten countries that engage in medical tourism around the world may increase or decrease the need for malpractice and compensation claims based on the amount of damage caused and injury suffered. Knowing the laws of these nations is best so that any legal action may progress to the courts of the country where the patient resides.
- Overview of a Dental Malpractice LawsuitThere are numerous issues that could occur when a person visits the dentist, but it is usually instances of negligence that leads to a dental malpractice lawsuit. For those injured during these visits, it is important to prove the four elements of a claim and seek as much compensation as possible so that recovery may resolve the matter entirely.
- How to Enforce a Court Order Against a Foreign Medical Provider?It is when medical tourism and treatment in other countries causes injury that the patient may need to try to have a court enforce an order or judgment upon a foreign medical provider or physician. Before this is even possible, it is imperative that the person involves knows the foreign laws that affect the case and how they work into the court system.
- Common Questions About Medical Malpractice in Kansas City, MissouriMedical malpractice cases aren't all that uncommon, however they can be very complicated. You may believe you have a case, but do you - and how do you know? As a trusted Kansas City personal injury attorney I've included some information and commonly asked questions below to help you determine whether you have a case.
- Contraceptives Crossing the Border and the Legal HurdlesIt is when contraceptives become purchasable over the counter that crossing the borders of the country could lead to legal complications in selling and giving these items to others. The legal hurdles the nation may face in loss of sales or difficulty in maintaining laws when a person crosses the border could cause other impacts to business and the legal system.
- Link between Antibiotics and Dental Standard of CareTo treat various issues inside the mouth as well as to prevent the possible infections that occur, a dentist may prescribe antibiotics. This is considered a standard of care in usual circumstances, but there are other methods used that prevent problems that are more often put to use which may manage and intervene before antibiotics become the best option.
- Problems Caused by Improper Root Canal ProcedureDentists are as infallible as any other medical doctor, and sometimes root canal procedures do not conclude in the best of circumstances for the patient. When injury occurs and the person is left seeking additional procedures or help from another source, it may be time to seek litigation against the dentist for these matters.
- Dental Implants Resulting in Dental Malpractice ClaimsThere is a need for dental implants for various individuals throughout the country, but there are many incidents out of the twenty percent of dental prostheses needed by all United States citizens that cause issues. Out of the few of the fifteen to twenty percent annually needing the implants, dental malpractice claims arise through injury to the patient.
- All Health Care and Social Law Articles
- All Tort and Personal Injury Law Articles
State Boards of Medical Examiners and Licensure
Medical Malpractice - US
- ABA - Medical Malpractice
The American Bar Association offers this brief definition of medical malpractice, as well as answers to several commonly asked questions on the topic.
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
HHS is the federal agency charged with protecting the health of Americans. This includes the administration of Medicare and Medicaid. These insurance programs often play a role in medical malpractice claims.
- Illinois Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider fails to adhere to the standard of care and a patient is injured or dies as a result. Each state has its own laws regarding medical malpractice.
- Medical Liability Reform (ATRA)
The American Tort Reform Association is dedicated to “repairing” the justice system by limiting recovery for medical malpractice victims. This website explains the group’s mission and current activities.
- Medical Malpractice - Wikipedia
This Wikipedia entry describes the subject of medical malpractice, with a focus on legal actions brought in the United States. Tort reform is also discussed.
- Medical Malpractice Illinois
Medical malpractice (IL) occurs when a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider fails to adhere to the standard of care and a patient is injured or dies as a result.
- Medical Malpractice Insurance
Treatment providers carry insurance to cover claims brought by patients. Medical malpractice insurance is described on this web page published by the Insurance Information Institute.
- Medical Malpractice Law
This web page contains a number of articles on medical malpractice law. Topics include case evaluation, expert witnesses, and methods for calculating damages.