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!

  • A Guide to Medical Malpractice

    Medical malpractice commonly includes misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, anesthesia errors, or birth injuries. Injured patients can bring a lawsuit against the hospital or health care professional seeking damages and compensation, usually with the help of a lawyer.

  • Common Types of Medical Malpractice

    Medical malpractice is when a healthcare professional breaches their duty of care to a patient, resulting in injury or death. Fortunately, these cases are fairly rare, but when they do occur the consequences can be devastating. Some people wonder what kinds of treatments might lead to medical malpractice. These are some of the most common types of medical malpractice.

  • Could a Doctor Be So Negligent That it is Considered Murder?

    Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when the loss could have been avoided. Often in cases of medical malpractice, those who are left behind after a loved one's passing wonder why the doctor is not going to jail for murder. Is it possible for one to charge a doctor with murder when their treatment of a patient was so poor as to result in death?

  • How Can I Find a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?

    Malpractice occurs when some form of negligence, such as a misdiagnosis, treatment after the surgery, mismanagement of care, treatment errors or the continuing care plan of the patient when they have been released from the hospital.

  • Medical Malpractice Law Handbook

    While many people receive medical treatment without incident, thousands of patients are injured every year while receiving medical treatment from a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist or other medical health professional. However, a legal claim does not necessarily arise simply because a surgery or other treatment did not go as expected. This handbook provides information about when a claim for medical malpractice may arise. If you believe that you have a valid claim for medical malpractice, consult a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

  • Medical Negligence in Post-Operative Care

    Post-operative care is usually a delicate phase for a patient recovering from treatment after a condition required the seeking out of a doctor to reverse or assist with medical issues. During this stage of recovery, the medical staff members can engage in reckless behavior or negligent actions that will lead to a medical negligence claim.

  • What is Medical Malpractice

    When one visits a doctor, they usually expect to get better. But in a few cases, mistakes are made, and the patient ends up with a misdiagnosis, an improperly performed procedure, or a mistake with medication. These errors can result in not getting better, new injuries, or even death. This could be medical malpractice.

Medical Malpractice Articles

  • What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 17 percent of individuals age 60 and older suffered some type of abuse in community settings over the past year. Institutions like nursing homes and long-term care facilities have high rates of nursing home abuse, with two of three staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year. The incidence of elder abuse has also increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits in Michigan
    All parents worry about their child’s future. But when a baby or child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, there is a whole new level of worry. Will the child be able to work and live independently? Will they need life-long medical care? Who will take care of the child if he or she outlives the parents? How will the child’s medical expenses be paid? A cerebral palsy birth trauma lawsuit, which is a subcategory of Medical Malpractice in Michigan, can help families recover sufficient money so that families do not need to worry about how to pay for care and can focus on caring for their child.
  • Is It Possible for a Miscarriage to Be Misdiagnosed?
    When women suffer pregnancy loss, it usually happens early in the first trimester. Unfortunately, a percentage of women are misdiagnosed as having a miscarriage. It’s important to know how this might happen and what you can do if you suspect a misdiagnosis.
  • What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in Florida?
    Malpractice does not mean having pain or a negative outcome following a procedure which was performed appropriately in accordance with all normal industry standards.
  • Colorectal Cancer Continues to Rise in Young Americans
    According to a new report written by researchers at the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer rates in individuals under the age of 50 have grown by a whopping 50% since the mid-nineties. While most people in this age group may believe they are too young to receive a cancer diagnosis, this new data proves otherwise. In fact, researchers estimate that approximately 20,000 people under 50-years-old will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year and that 3,750 will die from the disease.
  • What Do I Need to Know When Filing a Maryland Malpractice Claim?
    Whether you are seeing a doctor for a routine check-up, a scheduled surgical procedure, or you require immediate medical attention for a serious health emergency like a heart attack or a stroke, you place your trust in the hands of the medical professional responsible for your care. While most health care professionals consistently provide excellent medical care to their patients, there are situations where a health care provider may make a careless mistake that can cause the patient to suffer serious health complications. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are human and capable of making mistakes. However, if you suffered a serious injury or health complication, and you believe that your health care provider was negligent in some way, you are urged to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. that can help with the filing of a medical malpractice claim.
  • Can I File a Birth Injury Malpractice Claim in Maryland for Shoulder Dystocia?
    From the moment the pregnancy is confirmed to the much-anticipated labor and delivery, parents’ main concern is that the baby is born healthy, and with no major complications. However, there are a range of things that can go wrong during the childbirth process that can cause serious, permanent injuries to the baby and the mother. Shoulder dystocia is one example of a birth injury that can occur without any warning. In extreme cases, the consequences can be fatal. If you or your baby suffered severe injuries resulting from shoulder dystocia, and you believe that negligence was involved, contact a medical malpractice lawyer.
  • How to Prepare for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Maryland
    Only 2.9 percent of the people who experience medical malpractice injuries each year will file claims. Why? It is possible that many do not realize that their medical care was negligent, while others might think that malpractice cases are too complicated. Both of those answers are true to some extent, but understanding how these lawsuits work is the first step towards getting the compensation that you may be entitled to.
  • FAQs: Medical Board Investigations Defense Strategies
    Licensed medical professionals who have been accused of misconduct or failing to uphold an acceptable standard of care outlined in the Medical Practice Act can face disciplinary action by their state medical boards. These are not trivial circumstances. The state medical board licenses medical doctors, and you can face adverse disciplinary action and even lose your medical license, which would effectively end your career. Defending yourself during a medical board investigation is crucial. The healthcare defense lawyers at the national law firm Oberheiden P.C. are qualified legal counsel and have helped numerous doctors, surgeons, and other healthcare providers through this trying time. Here are four defense strategies that they regularly employ, and answers to three of the most frequently asked questions about the investigative process.
  • RSV or Common Cold in Children: Can a Misdiagnosis Lead to a Negligence Claim?
    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), almost all children will have RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, by the time they are 2. For most infants and children, RSV presents like a common cold with minor complications. But for some, respiratory syncytial virus causes potentially life-threatening symptoms. In this article, we take a closer look at how parents and caregivers can determine the difference between a minor case of RSV and one that warrants a trip to a medical professional.

Medical Malpractice - US

  • California Medical Malpractice Law

    Medical malpractice is a serious offense that can lead to more severe bodily harm to the patient or the death of this person through the improper treatment, inappropriate behavior of medical staff members and mistakes or changes to required guidelines by the attending physician. The medical malpractice laws in California provide for these circumstances in the civil courts.

  • Florida Medical Malpractice Law

    Medical malpractice in Florida is a claim of either the breach of the duty of care and standards necessary for treatment or negligence that the doctor or hospital engages in which can cause the injury or death of the patient. This law and regulations supporting it can provide for someone affected in such a manner to help pursue compensation in the claim against the medical facility or professional.

  • Illinois Medical Malpractice

    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.

  • Texas Malpractice Law

    Texas injuries through medical malpractice require that the person has certain elements of the case present, proof that the medical professional was at fault for injury through negligence and the ability to expose liability issues in the courtroom through the lawyer. The plaintiff can settle the matter outside of court with settlement negotiations or with a judgment from the jury or judge.

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